SVG Summit 2015: Top Operations Execs Sound Off on 4K, VR, and Today’s Economic Challenges

At Day 2 of the SVG Summit on Tuesday in New York City, top operations execs from CBS Sports, Fox Sports, MLB Network, NBC Sports Group, and Turner Sports discussed the biggest challenges and opportunities currently facing the live-sports-production industry. Hot topics included the near-term plans and hurdles for live 4K production; the MLB-NHL deal that brought NHL Network to MLB Network’s Secaucus, NJ, facility; a look ahead at the 2016 Rio Olympics; and the promise of virtual reality for sports. Watch highlights from the session below:

The Rio Olympics are less than eight months away and NBC Sports’ preparations for its most iconic property are already in the works. Darryl Jefferson, NBC Sports, VP of Post Operations and Digital Workflow, discusses NBC’s plans for the Games and how the time-zone-friendly Rio locale will mean more live Olympics coverage than ever before – and potentially record-breaking ratings:

 

As part of the major deal between MLBAM and the NHL made earlier this year, MLB Network integrated NHL Network operations into its Secaucus, NJ, facility earlier this year and continues to built out new facilities and workflows for NHL Network. Susan Stone, MLB Network, SVP, Operations and Engineering provides an inside look at how the MLB Network-NHL Network transition has gone thus far and what’s one the horizon:

 

As the interest in 4K content rises, live sports are likely to be seen in 4K in the near future. The question is – how do live-sports producers ease the transition from HD to 4K? One thing is clear, according to Mike Davies, Fox Sports, SVP, Field Operations, the side-by-side production model seen during the SD-to-HD transition is not a viable option:

 

Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports, EVP, Operations and Production Services says that CBS Sports plans to announce a major 4K-production test in the near future and continues to look at how to prepare for the next-gen format’s potential arrival in the mainstream. However, a litany of challenges remain on the production and distribution side of the 4K-live-sports equation:

 

Tom Sahara, Turner Sports, VP Operations and Technology looks back at Turner Sports’ 2015, which included tremendous storylines like the fan-favorite Mets and Cubs in the NLCS and Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors’ run to the NBA title. However, 2015 also included its share of challenges as Turner looks to find new efficiencies to face today’s economic hurdles. With both sides of the equation in mind, Turner focused on how technology can make the experience better for fans:

 

As part of it’s massive U.S. Open coverage this past summer, Fox Sports experimented extensively with producing a virtual reality experience and plans to continue tests as part of its new Fox Lab program. Davies provided an overview of what Fox learned at Whistling Straights and its VR roadmap going forward:

 

Aagaard says that CBS is also looking at VR and currently testing its prospects, but stresses that this is an experience that is wholly separate from the traditional multi-angle broadcast of a sports event. Davies chimes in regarding the challenges to monetize VR and create an ROI near-term, but remains excited about its potential:

DSC_0612CLICK HERE to view the full panel.