NAB Perspectives: Harris Executives Talk MSG Renovation

Since the Amway Center opened in Orlando, the Magic have offered Harris Broadcast an ideal platform to showcase the company’s core network-infrastructure, control-room, and digital-signage capabilities. New York’s Madison Square Garden has taken notice, and, at the NAB Show, Harris announced that it is taking its talents to New York City, to enrich the fan experience inside the World’s Most Famous Arena.

“They asked us to provide a complete IPTV and digital out-of-home solution for the arena transformation,” says Harris Morris, president of Harris Broadcast. “We will build on top of an IT network that we’re already providing through Harris’s IT services division to deliver dynamic content to 1,100 screens in the arena.”

With a theater as well as the multi-use arena, MSG hosts more than 400 annual events, making this renovation project a challenge from the scheduling get-go.

“This is probably one of the most complex projects that we will undertake,” says Michael Arthur, general manager of sports and live events for Harris. “We will work four months per year for three years, and, during those months, the building goes completely dark, and they work three shifts a day, 24/7. We have to be able to mesh with that schedule. We’re going to install equipment this summer, but, next summer, we’ll have to rip a bunch of that out to allow them to do more demolition, and then we’ll put it back in. It’s certainly a non-traditional project.”

Harris already powers MSG’s outdoor displays through its InfoCaster technology, so the MSG staff has some familiarity with the signage technology. That should make for an easier learning curve than was the case in Orlando.

“But Amway doesn’t have as many events, and they’ve got cleanup time in between,” notes Denise MacDonell, director/GM of digital out-of-home for Harris. “Knowing how many events a year [MSG] does, knowing that they constantly have to move and change the content, zoning, and how they set up the screens in terms of what’s displaying where and when is certainly exciting. This will be a fantastic demonstration of the technology that we have.”

Having worked with the Magic to stretch the current concept of what digital signage could do, Harris is poised to go one step further with that concept.

“To follow the lead of the Orlando Magic with their vision of a monetization model was groundbreaking,” Arthur says. “We’re now with a group that’s even bigger in terms of assets, so the ability to work with that group but also bring our learnings from Amway Center in a collaborative fashion is really exciting.”