SportsPost NY: Monetizing Through the Cloud and Calming Security Fears

Slowly but surely sports production is accepting the idea of working in the mysterious “cloud.”

At SVG’s SportsPost NY last week, league reps and technology providers discussed how workflows in the cloud can change the way postproduction operations are run and how cloud technology opens up a world of new opportunities. Among such opportunities are moving postproduction editing from the live venue to the home office.

Adobe’s Bill Roberts discusses the benefits of cloud operation.

Adobe’s Bill Roberts discusses the benefits of cloud operation.

“Who knew that smaller sports federations, like the Fencing Federation, produce almost 20 multicam productions per year?” said Bill Roberts, director of video product management, Adobe Systems, whose Pass solution uses the cloud for distributing TV Everywhere content to verified pay-TV customers. “There is an interest in who is the world champion, but one of the challenges you have is, [when,] say, a Japanese competitor is moving from No. 74 to No. 10 in the world, there’s a story there but you can’t afford to travel a guy to the event to tell that story. So one of the things I really like about this remote-production idea is, if you’re a content owner, you have new monetization opportunities if you can allow people to get to that content and edit it remotely.”

The pressing issue of cloud security was quickly addressed. Some key technology providers continue to try to ease existing concerns.

At Aframe, when content is loaded, the company produces three copies located in three separate geographic locations, while also giving it a home in the cloud.

“We had the Metropolitan Police in the UK come and give us a view for handling [closed-circuit television] footage for major crimes, and they said we were better than anything they had internally,” said David Peto, CEO/co-founder of Aframe. “Now, we can still do better, and the fact that your password can get out into the wild is the big thing with the cloud. It’s the simple fact that you can log on from any computer; you can’t really get around that. You can put in RSA keys and all of those things, but it should be about ease of use versus the security on the outside.”

So, with security improving, is the cloud becoming a bona fide solution not just for transport but for archival as well?

Christy King, VP, digital, technology R&D, at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its parent company, Zuffa, thinks so. Her organization is two years into a full digital-asset–management program with the company Levels Beyond.

UFC/Zuffa’s Christy King (left) speaks about editing remotely through the cloud as MLB’s Padraic Boyle listens on.

UFC/Zuffa’s Christy King (left) speaks about editing remotely through the cloud as MLB’s Padraic Boyle listens on.

“[Metadata] is always the elephant in the room that you don’t even know is there until you get into it and realize there is so much data that should associate with every frame of video,” she said, acknowledging that her 20-years-long historical library is easier and more practical to maintain than some other leagues’ histories, which can push a century old. “No matter how much or little you have, if you can’t find it, how good is it? So, for us, it’s not an archiving issue. I’m focusing on how to automate the metadata process as much as possible.”

Padraic Boyle, technical lead, Major League Baseball, discussed the league’s successful media-management tool, The DIAMOND Platform. A collaborative effort of MLB Network, MLB.com, and Major League Baseball Productions, DIAMOND is used to dig up content and produce broadcast programming for both MLB Network and MLB Productions. The platform also archives, searches, and retrieves video content for MLB use.

The Baseball Archives, managed by the DIAMOND Platform, contain more than 300,000 hours of content, which is easily retrievable within minutes from the data-tape robotic library. DIAMOND also received a nomination for the George Wensel Technical Achievement Award at the Sports Emmy Awards.