BT Sport benefits from Digital Production Partnership

Friday, January 17, 2014

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Digital Production Partnership (DPP) file-based delivery specifications are helping to streamline operations at the UK’s newest sports television broadcaster.


This summer saw one of the most significant developments in UK sports television for many years when BT Sport started broadcasting three sports channels from a state-of-the-art production centre, built in what was the international broadcast centre (IBC) at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the home of last year’s London Games.

The technical facility build has been masterminded by Timeline Television; it has refitted part of the building to house three TV studios, a control centre, 20 edit suites and an audience holding area. Designed, installed and operated by Timeline Television, the new Olympic Park studios is a production hub for all the sports content that BT will offer and some programmes will be hosted from the studios.

Launched on August 1, BT Sport broadcasts a range of live sports content including Barclays Premier League football and Aviva Premiership Rugby plus Serie A, Ligue 1, Brasileirão and Major League Soccer from overseas. Additionally, its studios broadcast a range of original debate and information shows every day of the week. The new production facility scores a number of firsts – not least that BT Sport has become the first UK broadcaster to adopt the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) file-based delivery specifications for all of its own internal productions.

BT Sport – innovation in action

By any parameter, BT Sport is an ambitious project. Two of the three studios can be configured into one 14,000 square foot studio which is claimed to be the largest L-shaped studio in the world. Innovative use of RF technology enables radio camera operations so that a presenter and camera operator can walk between areas with no picture disturbance.

And the innovation does not stop there. The master control room (MCR) manages over 150 incoming and outgoing HD vision lines plus inbound satellite traffic from BT’s Madley earth station.

Live transmissions leave the building by fibre, but highlights packages for broadcast or VoD are coded in-house via AVC-Intra 100, and then passed through a number of processes to make them DPP AS-11 compliant. This part is revolutionary, since BT Sport is the first broadcaster to prepare all its programming in the new metadata and file-based delivery standard.

To achieve this, the facility’s systems integrator – Timeline TV – worked with UK-based AmberFin to integrate the company’s iCR software platform within the BT Sport production centre. AmberFin iCR is providing high-speed file playback and transcoding resources as well as comprehensive standards conversion capabilities within the state-of-the-art file-based production and playout facility. Also, the addition of AmberFin’s Unified Quality Control system running Digimetric’s Aurora QC system as a seamless component within iCR ensures high media file quality and rapid turnaround of material within the workflow. 

Timeline Television reports that iCR’s ability to combine a number of parallel real-time processes, together with its unique Unified QC solution, which enables fast and efficient manual review of content along with best quality picture quality, made the platform an obvious choice.

”We chose AmberFin for the BT Sport project because we needed the highest-quality transcoding, QC and re-purposing available, delivered in the least possible time. This was essential in our design for the fast-turnaround workflow which lies at the heart of BT Sport,” commented Charlie Tear, Technical Director at Timeline Television.

“AmberFin sits at the centre of the BT Sport workflow, providing file ingest, re-versioning and delivery for BT’s three new flagship sports channels. AmberFin's API allows us the flexibility to customise its monitoring, control and integration with the rest of the facility’s systems and last but not least, AmberFin's integrated DPP capabilities have helped BT Sport become the UK's first fully DPP-compliant broadcast production hub.”


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