HD TV Sport production in Croatia18 March 2011
Arena Sport delivers a popular four channel service to audiences in Croatia. It has recently moved to a new production and playout facility, allowing it to broadcast in HD. Workflow for the new centre was supplied by Pebble Beach Systems.The new centre in Zagreb is the first HD production facility in Croatia. It is owned and operated by Croatel, which is providing the full turnkey broadcast service for Arena Sport, delivered in HD and downconverted SD to T-HT, the IPTV service of Croatian Telecom, and direct to home satellite broadcast.Tonko Barac, managing director of Croatel, explains that the four channel service was launched at the beginning of January, and covers a diverse mix of sports. “We have the broadcast rights for the UEFA Champions League, Spanish Primera football league, Italian Serie A football, NFL, NHL, CEV volleyball, the EHF handball championship and more.”Content is stored on a network of Grass Valley K2 media servers for ingest and playout, backed up by a 32 terabyte San, also provided by Grass Valley. The three front line servers have a capacity of 4TB, so there is constant traffic between the online and nearline stores: Barac estimated the daily traffic at 500GB.Managing this traffic is the Anchor media management product from Pebble Beach, which interfaces with the manufacturer’s Neptune automation system. “Anchor is fully automated with schedule look-ahead to auto-restore media from the San to the playout servers,” Barac reveals. “But as it is also used for live events, we have the capability of manual intervention.”As well as controlling the content flow the Pebble Beach Neptune system interfaces to Miranda logo inserters and controls an NVision router, also from Miranda. There is full redundancy in the system using Neptune Air Protect, with main and backup ports for each channel. Any of the four channels can be operated in manual mode for live events, moving seamlessly back into automation.“We evaluated several alternative automation systems, but Neptune’s ability to control our servers and ingest system made it simple and straightforward to integrate, and the pre and post sales support from Pebble Beach has been excellent,” says Barac.Already Pebble Beach is installing a second system for Croatel. The broadcaster has recently signed a contract with Croatian Olympic Committee Television, and is building a production centre for them at a separate site in Zagreb. This will see the Lite version of Pebble Beach Neptune integrated with an Avid playout server and an ingest from Mog Solutions, providing a national free to air channel through DVB-T, IPTV and DTH.