Video: Esports for Broadcasters – Part III

In the last of three sessions on esports, the RTS Thames Valley looks at how vendors for the traditional sports market can adapt and serve this quickly growing market.

Guillaume Neveux from EVS sets the scene talking about the current viewing figures (44 million concurrent peak viewers for League of Legends) and revenue predictions of a 40% increase over the next three years. This is built on sponsorship and, like TV, this takes the form of ad insertion, and programme sponsorship (i.e. logo on screen) to name but two options. Esports has an advantage as they can control the whole world the sport takes place in. This means that advertising signs can be placed, live, on objects in the live stream which are seen by the viewers but not by the players, something which has been attempted in traditional sports but has yet to become common.

Guillaume also looks at how Twitch and YouTube Gaming work, commenting that one of their big differences from traditional sports is the chat room which scrolls next to the game itself. This lends a significant feeling of community to the game which is seldom replicated in traditional sports broadcasting. In general, esports is free to watch. Freemium subscriptions allow you to reduce the number of adverts seen and also improve the chat options.

The next part of the talk spotlights some of the roles unique to esports. The Caster is analogous to a commentator. They are there to weave a story, to explain what’s happening on screen and to add colour to the even by explaining more about what’s happening, about the people and about the game itself. Streamers are individuals who stream themselves playing computer games who, like YouTube personalities, can have extremely large audiences. An Observer is someone who moves around the game world but is invisible to the players, they are analogous to camera operators in that they can control their own view of the world and are also responsible for choosing which views from the players are seen. Essentially they are like a sub vision mixer feeding specific shots into the main programme as well as, in some circumstances, creating dedicated streams of shots for secondary streams. Graphics operators are just as important as in other types of programmes although aspect ratios are all the more tricky and this also involves integration into the game engines.

Guillaume also covers the equipment used by esports broadcasters. EVS is a premium brand with products honed to a very specific market. Guillaume explains that although the equipment may seem expensive, the efficiencies derived from buying equipment designed for your workflow a notable compared to creating similar workflows out of other equipment typically due to the added complexity, maintenance and workflow fit. At the end of the day, much of what traditional sports and esports needs is similar – slowmo, replays, graphics insertion – so only some modifications were needed to the EVS products to make them fit into the needed workflows.

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Speakers

Guillaume Neveux Guillaume Neveux
Business Development Manager EMEA,
EVS

Video: OTT Workflow Integration Best Practices

Streaming can seem deceptively simple and a simple HLS workflow can be, but to deliver a monetised service to a wide range of devices, with a mix of live and on-demand assets, with advertising and DRM where needed is far from trivial. In this video, we hear from several companies on how they manage the complexity which allows their service to thrive.

Nadine Krefetz from streaming media asks the questions as we hear from Sinclair, Eyevinn Technology, fuboTV, FandangoNOW and Verizon Media. Firstly they introduce us to their services and the types of workflows that they are maintaining day in, day out.

Companies like Sinclair are frequently adding new channels through market acquisitions. Those companies that don’t grow through acquisition will, similarly, find themselves looking at their own legacy workflows as they look to modernise and improve their offering. Our panel gives their thoughts on tackling this situation. Magnus Svensson and Michael E. Bouchard both talk about having a blueprint, in essence, a generic workflow which contains all the functional blocks needed for a streaming service. You can then map the old and new workflows to the blueprint and plan migration and integration points around that.

The panel covers questions about how smaller services can address Roku and Amazon Fire devices, what to ask when launching a new service and which parts of their services would they never want to buy in or outsource.

Ad insertion is a topic which is essential and complex. Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) is seen as an essential technology for many services as it provides protection against adblockers and can offer more tight management of how and when viewers see ads. But the panel has seen that ad revenues are lower for SSAI since there are fewer analytics data points returned although VAST 4.0 is addressing this problem. This has led to one of the panel members going back to client-side ads for some of their workflows simply due to revenue. Magnus Svensson points out that preparation is key for advertising: Ensuring all adverts are in the correct formats and have the right markers, having slides ready and pre-loading to reduce peaks during live transmissions.

The panel closes looking at their biggest challenges, often in adapting to the pandemic, and the ever-evolving landscape of transport formats.
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Speakers

Michael E. Bouchard Michael E. Bouchard
Vice President of Technology Strategy,
ONE Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group
Magnus Svensson Magnus Svensson
Media Solution Specialist,
Eyevinn Technology
Geir Magnusson Geir Magnusson
Jr. CTO
fuboTV
Rema Morgan-Aluko Rema Morgan-Aluko
Director, Software Engineering,
FandangoNOW
Darren Lepke Darren Lepke
Head of Video Product Management,
Verizon Media
Nadine Krefetz Nadine Krefetz
Consultant, Reality Software
Contributing Editor, Streaming Media

Video: How to Optimize Your Live Streaming Workflow

Running the live streaming for an event can be fraught, so preparation needs to be the number one priority. In this talk, Robert Reinhardt, a highly experienced streaming consultant takes us through choosing encoders, finding out what the client wanted, helping the client understand what needs to be done, choosing software and ensuring the event stays on air.

This is a wide-ranging and very valuable talk for anyone who’s going to be involved with a live streaming event. In this article, I’ll highlight 3 of the big topics nestled in with the continuous stream of tips and nuances that Rob unearths.

System Architecture. Reliability is usually a big deal for live streaming and this needs to be a consideration not only in the streaming infrastructure in the cloud, but in contribution and the video equipment itself. No one wants to have a failed stream due to a failed camera, so have two. Can you afford a hardware switcher/vision mixer? Rob prefers hardware units in terms of reliability (no random OS reboots), but he acknowledges this is not always practical or possible. Audio, too needs to be remembered and catered for. It’s always better to have black vision and hear the programme than to have silent video. Getting your streams from the event into the cloud can also be done resiliently either by having dual streams into a Wowza server or similar or having some other switching in the cloud. Rob spends some time discussing
whether to use AVC or HEVC, plus the encoder manufacturers that can help.

Discovery and Budget Setting. This is the most important part of Rob’s talk. Finding out what your customer wants to achieve in a structured, well recorded way is vital in order to ensure you meet their expectations and that their expectations are realistic. This discovery process can also be used as a way to take the customer through the options available and decisions that need to be made. For many clients, this discovery process then starts to happen on both sides. Once the client is fully aware of what they need, this can directly feed into the budget setting.

Discovery is more than just helping get the budget right and ensure the client has thought of all aspects of the event, it’s also vital in drawing a boundary around your work and allows you to document your touchpoints who will be providing you things like video, slides and connectivity. Rob suggests using a survey to get this information and offers, as an example, the survey he uses with clients. This part of the talk finishes with Rob highlighting costs that you may incur that you need to ensure are included. Rob has also written up his advice.

Setup and Testing. Much of the final part of the presentation is well understood by people who have done events before and is summarised as ‘test and test again’. But it’s always helpful to have this reiterated and, in this case, from the streaming angle. Rob goes through a long list of what to determine ahead of the event, what to test on-site ahead of the event and again what to test just before the event.

The talk concludes with a twenty minute Q&A.

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Speakers

Robert Reinhardt Robert Reinhardt
CTO,
videoRx

Video: News in the New Norm

Whilst television marches on despite the pandemic, whilst not to overlook the decimated sports broadcasters, the mantra is ‘the show must go on’ so everyone has been trying to find ways to make TV production safe, practical yet still good! There is so many practical issues behind the camera from the typical packed OB trucks to simple bathroom sharing in the office which needs to be considered. In this video, we hear from BBC News explaining how they have managed to reshape their production to keep the news reaching the public.

“It’s hard to do your job in these circumstances.”

Morwen Williams

Morwen Williams, Head of UK News Operations at the BBC, describes the news workflows that have been created to make the news work. The term ‘Zoom workflow’ is in the fore, in the same way as a ‘Dropbox workflow’ has, perhaps forever, changed many file-based workflows, for live production a ‘Zoom workflow’ is the same. Though Morwen is quick to point out the work is as much technological as practical with the need for ‘long poles’ to ensure social distancing for sound engineers and the like. Workflows have had to remove roles, such as vision mixing, or move people to otherwise spare galleries.

Morwen explains that within the mobile journalism team, there was a pilot last year to test how well an iPhone X would be able to capture real packages which had some good results which ran on the national news. This is just one example of how the technological groundwork to enable mobile journalism during this crisis was already being laid.

Meeting virtually has its advantages, we hear, because when you have a lot of staff physical space is hard to acquire at the best of times. Since attendance can never be 100%, it’s better to have meetings more frequently to give people a better chance of attending some. Whilst this is certainly no replacement for physically meeting with people, it is likely to be retained when that is again possible.

Robin Pembrooke then takes some time to explain the shifts in production that he’s seen. All of the digital teams are now working from home. 15,000 people went from the offices to working from home which was a fraught transition but with no major outages. Radio shows are often now being presented and run by the presenter themselves from home. Talkback now takes many forms whether that be WhatsApp or other more broadcast-focused talkback-over-broadband products.

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Speakers

Morwen Williams Morwen Williams
Head of UK Operations,
BBC News
Robin Pembrooke Robin Pembrooke
Director, News Product and Systems,
BBC News