HPA Day #2: In-Venue VOD

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.—Live sporting events are eating themselves. There’s more and more competition between the venue and the home. A stadium in Kansas City is addressing the problem by combining the two. James Stellpflug of EVS provided an overview at the HPA Technology Retreat on Wednesday.

First, some figures from a January 2012 Cisco survey:
—74 percent of fans want to see more big screen HD content throughout the venue.
—45 percent said they would pay more if HD video was available throughout the venue.
—41 percent say they’d like to be able to see alternate camera angles than what they can see from their seat view.

However, Stellpflug said, streaming alone is of little added value to a fan in a venue. So, how do you get other camera angles to fans, any time they want it?

One early approach was renting out custom devices in the venue—not very successful. Fans want to stay within their own device, Stellpflug said. They are already using their own device before arriving at the stadium.

Sporting Park in Kansas City, an 18,500-seat, sold-out stadium that’s home of the MLS team Sporting KC, has employed in-venue video-on-demand to get soccer fans to leave their couches.

The park created a team app called “Uphoria,” which uses the EVS C-Cast API and is supported through Cisco’s Stadium Vision and Stadium Vision Mobile over robust Wi-Fi. Content is hosted and delivered as VOD.

Content can come from existing EVS Replay Servers, or from the control room or from the truck, Stellpflug said. Within the stadium, they used a server with a multicamera replay model. The EVS IPDirector manages extraction of content, which is transcoded to mezzanine H.264.

“The key is that content gets called out live,” Stellpflug said. “The goal was to pull content and deliver it within 20 seconds of the action on the field. Fans want to see clips as quickly as possible. It may be irrelevant to them two minutes later. Remaining multicamera angles arrive just after.”

A cloud element provides the ability to manage the content remotely and deliver the content elsewhere, or introduce content into the in-venue app in a bi-directional workflow.
Using Wi-Fi presents a potential chokepoint for larger venues, Stellpflug said. Sporting Park estimated that around 5,000 of the team’s 18,000 fans were in the app during the game, but they weren’t sure how many were rolling clips and when.

“You can’t guarantee that bandwidth,” he said. “We’re exploring other methods to deliver the content, like perhaps pushing clips to the app.”