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Capturing the beautiful game’s global showcase with…Red Bee Media

Red Bee Media's COO Dara Urquhart tells TVBEurope how it's delivering playout and transmission, as well as providing live subtitles across matchday broadcasts, during the tournament in Qatar

Dara Urquhart, chief operations officer at Red Bee Media reveals how the company is helping to support rights holders bring all the action of the World Cup to viewers.

What is your company’s role?

Red Bee Media has a rich heritage in broadcast and in particular live broadcasting. Born in broadcast, our roots are with the BBC and its first live broadcasts 100 years ago. We have developed our experience and skills in live coverage as our media and broadcast landscape has grown. For the FIFA World Cup 2022, our role is to deliver a great quality viewing experience on behalf of numerous rights-holding customers. 

How many people will be involved in the operation – remote vs on site

The role of Red Bee Media is to deliver the produced feed from the live events, so there is no on-site production element. All our services will be provided from our global hubs by teams of operators, support staff and engineers. Our global teams work laterally as well, providing cross-site services internally. In our accessibility service, subtitlers work flexibly in hubs and remotely, covering the live events as they broadcast. Across the Red Bee Media global teams, the FIFA World Cup will involve approximately 360 people.

What technology are you deploying on the project?

Our services will span core playout and transmission, delivering live feeds through our managed MCR services, providing live subtitles across matchday broadcasts, delivering live streams to devices, and updating EPG data. In addition to that, they cover preparing information including team plays and sporting event showcards, in order to be able to deliver rich metadata to our customers during the tournament. We liaise closely with our broadcast partners globally to understand the approach and requirements for high-profile live events and translate this into a service solution.

Is any of it new?

Our position as a media services partner means that we don’t build up and tear down new technology hardware for events like this. Rather, we have invested for the medium and long term in platform capacity that can deliver these most-watched live events to audiences, flawlessly and at scale – and that is ‘business as usual’ for us. Our broadcast playout and transmission centres have been upgraded to offer services on a state-of-the-art, uncompressed IP backbone using resilient, software-defined solutions, working with the best products from our technical partner organisations. Rights-holding broadcasters trust us to bring all this complexity together to create an assured service output – it’s what we do.

What are the stand-out USPs of your company’s role?

In recent years, Red Bee Media has invested in developing our IP-based platforms with a media-centric private cloud with sustainability as one of its core features. We work in a hybrid way, using both public and private cloud technologies. Using private cloud platforms within our data centres has increased the efficiency of related power consumption. There are now fewer single-task appliances consuming power yet running idle, which has reduced the direct power drawer per system function. 

For the FIFA World Cup 2022, our teams will all either be working remotely from home or their usual workplaces, allowing us to keep travel emissions and costs to a minimum.

Anything else you want to tell us? 

FIFA World Cup 2022 is a huge international event – highly anticipated, watched and rewatched. Our responsibility is to thoughtfully and carefully deliver to our customers’ distribution partners or viewers at home. Preparation and coordination are key with high-profile global live coverage, and we focus a lot on the processes we have honed to ensure seamless delivery. Even when we are not delivering international events, we cover hundreds of live broadcasts every day across our global hubs – the trick is to treat every event like a World Cup match.