This year's clutch of Innovation Awards finalists have been announced. The 10 finalists who will appear on stage at IBC2014 in September are the broadcasters, producers and service providers who are most benefitting from the use of innovative systems to allow them to better serve their audiences.
“From a bigger list of submissions than ever, our judges have worked hard to whittle them down to just 10,” said Michael Lumley, Chair of the IBC2014 Innovation Awards judging panel. “What I love about this year’s shortlist is that in each category there is a surprise, perhaps because it is an often-unheralded part of the broadcast chain, or it is from a fascinating part of the world.
“My congratulations go to all the finalists, and to their technology partners who have developed the solutions we honour,” he added. “A lot of people will be keenly awaiting this year’s awards ceremony.”
There are three categories in the IBC Innovation Awards scheme, for the best applications of technology in Content Creation, Content Management and Content Delivery. Today’s announcement is of the shortlist in each category. The winners will be announced during the IBC Awards Ceremony, on Sunday 14 September 2014. All IBC visitors are invited to attend the ceremony, which is held in the RAI Auditorium and is free to all.
There are three names on the shortlist for the award for most innovative content creation project. The first is for Channel 4 in the UK, whose sports team wanted to make the Grand National – probably the most famous race in the calendar – more involving for its audience. Thanks to technology partners Civolution, Monterosa and TurfTrax, the Horse Tracker app delivered realtime speed and positional information to the audience via the second screen.
Cumulus Radio wanted to tidy up the way it provided radio booths for multiple stations at American red carpet events. Rather than rig the usual mass of cables, it connected everything over IP, then gave each station a virtual audio mixer, controlled from an iPad. The result was an elegant, easy to use solution that saved half the equipment cost and a lot of rigging time. Technology partners were Axia Audio, Broadcast Software International and Telos Systems.
For its flagship football discussion show, the UK’s Sky Sports wanted to create a hugely engaging visual feast, incorporating not just virtual sets but graphical analysis, player tracking and much more. To create the Monday Night Football show it wanted, it got two companies who are normally competitors – ChyronHego and Vizrt – to collaborate on the project.
There is another sports application in the content management category. New entrant to the premier channel market BT Sports designed its new broadcast base to be fully file-based from the beginning, including comprehensive adoption of the soon-to-be mandatory DPP format (standardised as AMWA AS-11). With the help of Dalet Digital Media Systems, BT Sport has been DPP ready from the beginning.
Groupe Média TFO has undergone a transformation over the last year, moving from a small broadcaster (serving the French-speaking population of largely Anglophone Ontario) to a massive online presence. Since the implementation of its media factory system – with technology partners Adobe, Applied Electronics, EMC Isilon, IPV, Oracle and Signiant – it has increased its in-house content by 50% while at the same time cutting the freelance bill by 40%.
Just two years ago Sky News Arabia was an IBC Innovation Awards finalist for its original design and build. Now it is a hugely popular news broadcaster in the Middle East, and decided to ensure business continuity with a disaster recovery platform. It took a radical design approach, with Blackmagic, Haivision, Nevion, Vizrt and Zixi building a platfgrm that each of its 17 bureaus around the region and the world can access and control, so that together they form a fully capable backup.
Taking the view that consumers now routinely use a second screen to see what their friends and celebrities are talking on Twitter about a show, Airtel Digital TV in India took the logical step and decided to put contextual tweets on the television screen. They needed to do this simply – at the click of a remote – and they needed to do it with the close to nine million set-top boxes they already had in the field. In partnership with BrizzTV Media Labs they delivered the service and delighted their audience.
The BBC iPlayer has been the most spectacularly successful catch-up and video on demand service in the world, and by 2013 it had far outstripped its original headend technology. BBC Future Media, in association with Amazon Web Services, AtoS, Codeshop, Elemental and Omnia, created a new content factory which currently published 50,000 hours or 100,000 clips a year for four screens and over 1000 different devices.
Another broadcaster with a highly successful on demand service is Sky Deutschland. At the end of 2013 it launched Snap, an online media library offering thousands of films, series and children’s programmes from the Sky Collection, for the web, iPad and iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy and smart televisions, with more platforms to come. To make Snap work Sky Deutschland brought together a huge technical team, including Accedo, Atos, Capgemini, Coeno, Contone, CreateCtrl, Deloitte, Fincons, HP, ID Media, Namestorm, NTT Data, SHS Viveon, Sky Italia, TDS, Wirecard and Weeks.
The last name on this year’s shortlist is another of the world’s most influential broadcasters, Turner Sports. Basketball fans told Turner they wanted to watch the game of their choice with their local commentators. The result was an expansion of the NBA League Pass broadband offer, including both home and away feeds with dynamic advertising. Working with Adobe, Akamai, DNF Controls, Elemental, FreeWheel Media and Harmonic, Turner now has a platform that can deliver every game over broadband to any subscriber. That means as many as 30 games a night, or over 800 streams published in real time.