VSiN Improves Audience Experiences With ENCO’s enCaption4

Ken Sporich (L) and Miles Gwyn use enCaption4 to take an SDI feed from their master control and embed the closed captions into an SDI output using the unit’s integrated, DoCaption-powered caption encoder card. (Image credit: VSiN)

LAS VEGAS—VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, is the first sports media company dedicated to providing news, analysis and proprietary data to the millions of Americans who wager on sports and make sports betting a multibillion-dollar industry. 

First launched on satellite radio in 2017, we expanded to television in August 2019 and fans can now watch our content on Comcast Xfinity, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, Rogers Sportsnet, Spectrum LA Sportsnet, NESN, MSG Networks, Marquee Sports Network, MASN and AT&T Pittsburgh, plus our own website (VSiN.com) and app. 

One of our first broadcast partnerships required us to provide three hours of live captioning daily. We worked with a closed caption service provider that used human transcribers—it was expensive for a relatively small company like ours, but was doable for that limited number of hours. 

We eventually wanted to caption all of our content to create a better experience for our audience. As our live programming grew exponentially—we now produce 21 hours of live content every weekday and 17 hours on weekends—the cost of human captioning became prohibitive. A tipping point came last summer as we planned our launch on YouTubeTV, which recommended that all programming be captioned. 

The Automation Imperative
We had been keeping an eye on automated captioning solutions, but the investment didn’t make sense when we were doing just a handful of hours. Now, an automated solution was the only viable option for us. 

We sent ENCO some sample shows to caption, and were impressed by the accuracy. We use a lot of unique betting terminology, and enCaption4 got a lot of things right that even human captioners might have trouble with. We started testing a demo unit in August, then went live with it in September. That process was very easy—we basically flipped a switch, and all of our distribution partners had access to caption data.

Our enCaption4 system takes an SDI feed from our master control and embeds the closed captions into an SDI output using the unit’s integrated, DoCaption-powered caption encoder card. The resulting signal is sent to Roberts Communications Network in Las Vegas, who then distributes it to our website, app, and broadcast partners in the required formats. 

Speech-to-Text Challenges
We continue to be impressed by the accuracy of enCaption4’s automated speech-to-text. We have contributors from all over the country—including Massachusetts, Louisiana, Colorado and the Midwest—with all the challenges that come with regional accents and different ways of speaking. But enCaption4 does a good job of hearing what our talent is saying and turning it around. It’s remarkable that even if we have trouble audibly making out what a speaker is saying, we can read it correctly in the captions. 

The cost savings with enCaption4 have been enormous. We can now do our full 21 hours of daily programming at a similar cost to what we were paying for three hours each day of live human captioning. 

Our purchase of enCaption4 has effectively paid for itself, not only in those direct cost savings but also in time, manpower, and effort. We used to spend time setting up the live sessions, managing connectivity to the service provider, and scheduling captioners—all of which took time away from focusing on the quality of our broadcasts. With enCaption4, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. It’s so easy and works so well that we just set it and forget it.

The enCaption4 has been critical in helping expand our live programming, and it’s a feather in our cap with our broadcast partners that we can offer closed captioning data that’s this accurate. l

Miles Gwyn is director of broadcast operations and Ken Sporich is chief engineer at VSiN. He can be reached at miles@vsin.com

For more information, visit www.enco.com or contact Sam Bortz at ENCO Systems in Michigan at 248-827-4440.

Director of Broadcast Operations, VSiN

Miles Gwyn is Director of Broadcast Operations for VSiN