SVG Advisory Board Chairman Tom Sahara: A Year of Robust Growth

By Tom Sahara, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Sports Video Group

As my first year as SVG Advisory Board Chairman draws to a close, the challenges that we face every day in our lives and jobs continue to grow in impact and urgency. We have witnessed the government budget woes, where placing one’s party and personal agenda ahead of those one serves results in widespread hardships. The willing participation of all SVG members for the benefit of all is what makes SVG such a special group.

The year has seen the growth of sports networks, with NBC Sports Network moving to its new home in Stamford, CT, and SPEED TV getting a new look with its rebranding as Fox Sports 1 — proving that there is still tremendous value in linear channels. These networks were also accompanied by the growth of digital platforms in Netflix, Hulu, Chromecast, and Aereo. The Emmy win for House of Cards, the first by a digitally delivered original production, is the proclamation that “digital has arrived”; yet sports continues to be the fuel that drives appointment and extended viewing.

The “best available screen” now extends beyond media viewing. Second-screen and social-media apps on smartphones and tablets are commonly used while watching TV. More users check e-mail or engage in social activities while watching TV than watch TV on their mobile devices. Nielsen recognizes this audience with its recently unveiled Nielsen Twitter TV rating.

The rebranding of December’s SVG Summit (Dec. 16-17 at the New York Hilton Hotel) and this year’s theme of “The Business of Sports Production” reflect this changing landscape. Sports productions now extend well past the confines of the stadium, and our productions feed many more destinations than just the big screen in the den.

The demand for content is growing, but the resources we use to create this content are not. Rights fees are escalating, technology is evolving rapidly, and viewer habits are changing at an accelerating pace.

The demand for TV white-space spectrum for wireless devices is impacting our use of wireless microphones and communications systems. The DTV Audio Group needs your support in its efforts to protect the tools we use in creating content for our businesses.

The Sports Production Safety Group has reached a significant milestone, with more than 6,000 registered industry professionals. SPSG’s ongoing efforts in venue safety and weather alerts have proved their value as leagues and venues incorporate these measures into event plans.

The SVG Venue Technology Summit held at the Barclays Center tackled all these topics from a venue perspective. From DAS and WiFi deployments to app development and spectator safety, sports venues face many challenges in keeping customers informed, entertained, and safe while enjoying a game.

The buzz around Ultra HD (4K) will be high at CES in January, and we will continue to report on it, especially because such technologies as HEVC and IP delivery will benefit existing HD workflows. 4K cameras and production tools have added value to existing HD productions and may be the bridge needed for industry-wide adoption of this new format.

It has been an exciting year, and I have learned a lot from all of you and look forward to seeing you all at the SVG Summit next month in New York.