Grass Valley Router Helps IMG Cover Premier League Pitch

Inside IMG Studios main control room, which utilizes Grass Valley’s Nvision hybrid router
LONDON–IMG Studios, based at Stockley Park in London, is the in-house facilities provider to IMG Productions, the world’s largest independent sports program producer, which generates more than 21,000 hours of television annually.

The Stockley Park site comprises four television studios, nine live galleries, 72 edit suites, three audio dubbing suites, three radio studios, visual effects, newsroom, transmission suites and a main control room dealing with more than 200 incoming fiber and satellite sources.

Much of the work involves the distribution of increasingly valuable sports content around the world, in many cases with additional production. Resilience is critical in everything that we do, whether it is delivery of a live match, fast turnaround highlights, news, or post-produced magazine programming. With more than a dozen football leagues passing through the facility on a typical weekend, the complexity of the routing is mind boggling.

We had our first experience with the Grass Valley Nvision hybrid router when we upgraded the majority of our plant from SD to HD primarily to support our main customer, the Premier League. With 5.1 audio becoming the norm and the requirement for commentary mix and international sound versions to be carried with every vision signal, it became clear that embedded audio would be essential. The Nvision hybrid router has enabled us to solve many of the complex packaging problems that arise with multichannel embedded audio.

Nvision hybrid router
Our routing system comprises Core (576x1152), Gallery (1152x1152) and Post(576x576) 8500 series hybrid routers with additional frames for BITC/ASI (144x144), RS422 (128x128) and LTC (128x128). The control system is ATOS BNCS. All inputs and outputs are 3Gbps as is the wiring throughout the plant. We make extensive use of MADI interfaces to our Lawo audio desks.

A typical Premier League match may have a number of associated vision and audio signals such as tactical and clip feeds. There may also be unilateral feeds from international customers to be monitored and passed on. Each of these feeds need to be presented to a variety of destinations—such as the live gallery handling the produced world feed, the studio producing the Premier League channel, PLTV, encoding for IPTV distribution and for ingest to Avid post production and archive. BNCS and Nvision allow us to simplify the control of the myriad of vision and audio sources.

Similarly our customers will be taking many different permutations of video and audio signals, which need to be combined and monitored before they leave on satellite or fiber paths.

Because of the commercial value of the feeds we carry, we insist on redundant systems wherever possible, making use of redundant power supplies and dual control cards. Effectively eliminating patch panels from our installation has led to a high degree of reliability throughout.

From a user point of view, hybrid routing systems have taken some time to understand but now form the heart of an extremely robust distribution system.

David Shield has been in technical management roles at IMG since 1990 and is now responsible for IMG’s global engineering and technology strategy. He can be contacted

For additional information, contact Grass Valley at 514-333-1772, or