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Sky: Broadening the Reach of the Games

Sky New Zealand, broadcasting the Games in conjunction with free-to-air broadcaster Prime TV, was a big user of OBS's Multichannel Distribution Service (MDS), which provided 10 ready-to-air channels of competition plus the ONC via satellite. OBS used the rapid turnaround inherent in its massive server system to populate the MDS with a mix of live and recorded content. 

The Kiwis were one of the original twenty+ broadcasters who used the MDS from Vancouver, and they used all that good content to establish a Winter Games audience and to drive significant growth in viewership from Vancouver. Perhaps noticing Sky’s good Winter results, more than 90 broadcasters got on the MDS pipeline in London. 

In London Sky once again punched above its weight in terms of output: the small team used the MDS feed to create eight HD channels of content that played 24/7 on their sat platform. Sky’s IBC facility recorded unilateral feeds— such as one of their ENG crews interviewing a New Zealand competitor—for insertion either into one of the eight satellite channels, or use in the FTA Prime coverage. All delivery from London to New Zealand was via satellite and fibre. Programming also included a Mosaic Channel on the satellite and running the Olympic News Channel (ONC) 24/7 in SD.

This kind of expanded event coverage relies on the rapid turnaround only possible in a server-based environment. 

Both Sky’s small London facility and the New Zealand facility used EVS servers. In London, two XT3s in 4-input/2-output mode are being used to record overlay and also to turn around any long form content not featured in the MDS feeds.

Back home, a mix of XT2s and XT3s ingest all material. “We basically run one XT3 for two channels (of the 8) and from that box we also clip up replays, commercials and promos,” says Kerry Phelvin, Technical Production Manager for Sky Television.

Sky is also using a modified version of EVS IPDirector for basic presentation playout for the eight HD channels.

Phelvin said a variety of other EVS software products—namely the latest generation of the IPDirector suite including IPBrowse, an ingest scheduler and a software player—are used in logging, browsing, and rough cut prep for fast turnaround replay and Final Cut craft editing.