NBC Sports Taps Omneon for Super Bowl Content Distribution

NBC Sports’ on-air production of Super Bowl XLIII was aided by Omneon’s ProCast CDN high-performance content distribution platform. The system delivered large HD graphics and audio files to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla. from NBC facilities in New York.

Graphics files of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals were sent in a fraction of the time typically required. While the graphics team and equipment traditionally relocate to the game site, ProCast increased resource management efficiency by keeping them in New York this time around.

“We had a great experience using ProCast CDN to move graphics and video files the 6,000 miles from Beijing to New York for production of our Olympics coverage, so it was an obvious solution as we looked to establish a simpler, more efficient, and more cost-effective model of content distribution for our Super Bowl coverage,” said NBC Sports director of graphics Phil Paully. “ProCast CDN ensures fast, reliable delivery of large graphics files without jeopardizing voice communications and other critical data being transferred on the same circuit. It’s essentially invisible to our graphics team, and it provides our technical staff with easy on-the-fly management of file delivery during the game.”

NBC Sports’ immense data transfers between New York and Tampa Bay were made possible by ProCast’s incorporation of bandwidth prioritization, network management, and advanced WAN acceleration technology. Files were delivered over a DS3 network, supported by a 20 Mbps VPN Internet circuit and automatic failover. The permission to set QoS boundary values helped NBC engineers realize maximum performance from the link without flooding the data circuit.

“ProCast CDN is the IP acceleration solution we’d been seeking for quite some time, and today it’s a critical part of our operations,” said NBC Sports information technology VP, Craig Lau. “Omneon ProCast system has been a rock solid and extremely effective means of quickly transferring large files for on-air production.”

Before utilizing ProCast CDN, NBC Sports depended on slower and more complex FTP data transfers, with graphics work performed locally. Today, the graphics staff in New York work from their usual Chyron Duet workstations and simply drop finished files into designated folders. The priority and transfer rate of these automatically delivered files can be managed—remotely and in real time—by the technical staff.

By maximizing the application of NBC Sports’ bandwidth, ProCast CDN technology has been able to ensure high-speed packet transfers, unaffected by either distance or latency.

“NBC Sports has become the established leader in using high-speed content delivery networks to improve HD production capabilities while reducing operational costs and complexity,” said Omneon senior vice president for products and markets Geoff Stedman. “By utilizing ProCast CDN for long-distance content delivery applications, the network is able to institute more flexible workflows and better use of its creative resources in bringing viewers dynamic sports programming.”