Turner Sports Taps Into Open Internet for PGA.com Ryder Cup Streaming

Turner Sports is on the scene at The Ryder Cup in support of PGA.com and its streaming channel of four-hole coverage from The Ryder Cup. It’s also making use of the open Internet for transmission to Atlanta courtesy of Zixi technology.

Tom Sahara, Turner Sports, senior director, IT and remote operations, with the two racks of equipment at the center of PGA.com's coverage of the Ryder Cup.

Turner Sports’ Tom Sahara with the two racks of equipment at the center of PGA.com’s coverage of The Ryder Cup

“We reconfigured our racks here so they can do eight channels of video out of each, and then we are using Zixi to encapsulate the stream and send it back to the U.S. over the Internet,” explains Tom Sahara, VP, operations and technology, Turner Sports. “The innovation here is that we usually don’t have this large a number of feeds.”

All told, there are 12 feeds being sent to Atlanta and four channels of return feed. CTV’s OB7 production trailer is used for signal routing and monitoring.

The four-hole coverage begins tomorrow and continues through the entire event. Holes 2, 8, 13, and 17 will be featured with a selection of between four and six camera feeds from each hole. As the groups pass through the four holes, coverage will rotate to the most important action.

The signals will be sent to a control room in Atlanta where the camera signals will be mixed and graphics and commentary will be added. Scoring data will also be sent across the pond to allow scoring graphics to be automatically generated.

“We also have a roving reporter on the course with an RF camera who is being directed from Atlanta and following stories under the direction of producer Matt Cain,” adds Sahara.

PGA.com crews also are working in the media center, creating feature stories and highlights packages via Apple Final Cut Pro. That content is being uploaded to the Web from Gleneagles.

The use of the Zixi system points to both the potential and limitations of using the open Internet for video transport. The system takes the video and audio output and converts it into IP packets prior to sending it over the Internet. Among its features are being based on User Datagram Protocol (UDP), providing end-to-end time synchronization, removing jitter, and being able to intelligently sequence packets. And, while there is some inevitable packet loss, the results are fine for a streaming-only production that is taking part during a busy season for Turner Sports, with the MLB Playoffs about to begin and preparations for the NBA regular season shifting into overdrive.

“The magic is how they segment the video and the receivers bring the video in and put the packets in the right order,” says Sahara. “And, because this is streaming on the Web only, there is more tolerance for latency than if it was being broadcast.”