Fox Sports Deploys Next-Gen IT Architecture From OpenDrives

World Cup 2022
(Image credit: FIFA)

LOS ANGELES—Fox Sports has reduced the complexity, physical footprint and setup time required for remote productions with its implementation of a next-generation IT architecture from OpenDrives that leverages a simplified, scalable software solutions with high-performance hardware. 

Already used for production of some of the biggest sporting events, such as NASCAR, the U.S. Open Golf Tournament and NFL games, the OpenDrives solution will be deployed for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

“Consolidating hardware and software systems becomes increasingly crucial with every camera we add to the field and every system or equipment advancement, be it the rapid shift to IP or surge in high dynamic range (HDR) and 8K formats,” said Kevin Callahan, vice president of field operations and engineering at Fox Sports.

“This has put tremendous demand on data transfer to ensure Fox Sports continues to deliver the best viewer experience possible," he continued. "OpenDrives’ efficient, flexible software and hardware solutions have proven critical to helping Fox Sports achieve this.”

Using IP-based standard open protocols, OpenDrives integrates with best-in-class broadcast technology and data solution providers, including CMSI, EVS, Western Digital, Signiant, Google, Aspera and Arista, to serve as the centralized hub powering seamless onsite connections and real-time access to content, OpenDrives said.

Its modular, portable system reduces the days or even weeks typically needed to setup a traditional IT architecture to less than an hour, the company said.

“OpenDrives provides a much smaller footprint with less hardware and wiring than legacy infrastructure systems with an intuitive workflow interface that can be deployed and accessed by our product teams at any given moment, whether from our LA-based ‘Vault’ or across the world from the sidelines,” said Callahan.

“Every square inch and millisecond matters," he continued. "With OpenDrives, and the powerful ecosystem it powers, we’re able to maximize all of this for superior performance and broadcast transfer that is glitch-free.”

Recently, Fox Sports tonemapped and converted its entire archive for NASCAR using the OpenDrives solution with a transfer throughput rate three times faster than its previous system. It is relying on OpenDrives’ Ultimate hardware for the 2021-22 NFL season to deploy all-flash NVMe transfer kits, increasing read/write speed by 4x while cutting the rack space and overall footprint required in half.

Fox Sports will scale its IT architecture for the World Cup after OpenDrives proved it could meet the demanding performance required for coverage of the event, which the broadcaster will cover with more than 90 simultaneous camera feeds shot using HDR. The coverage will include four matches per day, played in eight stadiums separated by about 47 miles.

“OpenDrives’ solutions are built by M&E industry veterans and the individual needs of our M&E customers. In fact, the OpenDrives Ultra Series was created for broadcast to provide shared storage systems that both scale up and scale capabilities to match the individual complexities and performance demands for live broadcast with a much smaller form factor,” said Sean Lee, chief product and strategy officer at OpenDrives. 

“But it’s more than just hardware,” said Lee. “It’s taking a software-led approach to storage technology and being able to work with a valuable ecosystem of partners like CMSI, Signiant and Aspera. Together, we've driven significant advancements around containerization and compute – next-generation IT infrastructures that are ushering in a new era for live broadcast. We couldn’t be more ready and more excited to power Fox Sports’ events from Qatar 2022 and beyond.” 

More information is available on the OpenDrives website.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.