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Sports, celebrities, and social media feature at IBC Awards

One of the highlights of any IBC is the Awards Ceremony, this year to be held on Sunday 14 September in the Auditorium. Alongside presentations of the International Honour for Excellence and the Special Award, it is the moment when the winners of the IBC Innovation Awards are announced.

These are unique honours.

There are plenty of places where the latest technology can be recognized, but here is only one set of awards that examines not how clever the technology is but how useful. The IBC Innovation Awards go to end users – broadcasters, production companies and content distributors – who have brought together the best suppliers to solve a real issue.

To win an IBC Innovation Award, the project has to be a groundbreaking project which has made the user more creative, more efficient or more connected to its audience. The ten projects on this year’s shortlist – from six countries – are very different, but all worthy finalists.

There are three categories, for innovation in Content Creation, Content Management and Content Delivery. The audience at the Awards Ceremony will see short videos on each finalist. To find out which projects take the trophies home, you will have to be there.

The first nominee is free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4 in the UK. It wanted to make its coverage of horse racing, and particularly the Grand National, more engaging for audiences. Working with Civolution, Monterosa and TurfTrax it developed the Horse Tracker app, which receives data processed from small data transmitters sewn into the saddle cloths of each horse.

Faced with more than 20 radio stations wanting to cover the American Music Awards in Los Angeles, each wanting a red carpet commentary booth, clean feeds, microphone mixing and distribution, Cumulus Radio Engineering thought IP. Using technology from Axia Audio, Broadcast Software International and Telos Systems they moved from a rigging nightmare to a single ethernet cable to each booth, with mixing and routing on an iPad Mini.

Monday Night Football has been a feature on the UK’s Sky Sports since 1992, and the broadcaster continues to innovate its production. For the 2013/4 season the show saw its most dramatic and exciting look yet. To achieve this, Sky Sports worked with two technology partners who are normally competitors: ChyronHego and Vizrt collaborated to create a wow factor that has raised the bar for sports television.

Moving to Content Management, the first nomination is for a new broadcaster, BT Sport. The UK telco built its production and delivery base in part of the London Olympics broadcast centre at the beginning of 2013. This brand new facility is of course entirely file-based, using the Digital Production Partnership format for ease of programme exchange. Dalet Digital Media Systems was its technology partner.

Télévision Francophone de l’Ontario transformed its operations to deliver bright, attractive and engaging content across multiple platforms, using modern production techniques and content management. The new technology platform, built with technology partners Adobe, Applied Electronics, EMC Isilon, IPV, Oracle and Signiant, allows content to be shot on anything from a multi-camera HD studio to an iPhone. The aim is always to get the content online, and on air, as quickly as possible. Output has increased by 40%.

Sky News Arabia was shortlisted for an IBC Innovation Award in 2012, when it first went on air. This popular broadcaster returns this year with its Project SkyNet, which links all its sites to create a disaster recovery network. Working with technology partners Blackmagic, Haivision, Nevion, Vizrt and Zixi, it built a platform that could be accessed and controlled from anywhere in the world over the public internet.

Four delivery challenges
Four projects made it to the shortlist in Content Delivery, and the first comes from India. Airtel Digital Television wanted to be able to show tweets about its programmes, in realtime, as an optional overlay on the television screen. The challenge was to achieve this with existing set-top boxes, without affecting any other functionality. The challenge was met with technology partner BrizzTV Media Labs.

The BBC iPlayer is seen as the most successful catch-up service in the world, delivering to over seven million users a day, on four screens and over 1,000 devices. That needs a powerful processing factory, and BBC Future Media developed a cloud solution to run on Amazon Web Services, with technology partners Atos, Codeshop, Elemental and Omnia.

Sky Deutschland also has a successful on demand service, and at the end of 2013 it augmented it with Snap. This puts much of its library of films, series and children’s programmes online as a standalone OTT product. Sky Deutschland assembled a huge team to collaborate on this successful project, including Accedo, Atos, Capgemini, Coeno, Contone, CreateCtrl, Deloitte, Fincons, HP, ID Media, Namestorm, NTT Data, SHS Viveon, Sky Italia, TDS, Wirecard and Weeks.

Last but definitely not least, Turner Sports has rolled out a broadband service for basketball fans. The NBC League Pass now allows subscribers to watch the game of their choice, with their local commentators and shot selection. The solution, developed with Adobe, Akamai, DNF Controls, Elemental, FreeWheel Media and Harmonic allows Turner to deliver every game over broadband to any subscriber on any platform: as many as 30 games a night, or over 800 streams published in realtime.

You can pick your own winners from these fascinating projects. To hear the choices of the judging panel – made up of international editors and consultants – you will have to be at the Awards Ceremony, at 18.30 on Sunday 14 September. All IBC attendees are invited to attend this free event, which this year will include surprise guests and spectacular entertainment.
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