Billed as “studio in the cloud”, Live Venue aims to do for stadium broadcast what cloud computing for the home PC market. Fundamentally, it does away with the requirement for a broadcast studio at the stadium, instead delivering content to stadium screens via high speed fibre optic links to ADI’s central Live Venue studio.
Rather than installing and operating an expensive studio on-site, which is only used for perhaps 30 days a year, the Club uses ADI’s ‘studio in a cloud’ as and when required. This brings cost savings in a number of areas – including equipment, training, staffing – but also ensures a future-proof solution for the Club as their equipment never goes out of date. Most importantly it brings true flexibility, with programming able to be changed quickly and easily and is not restricted by the technology the Club own.
Although famed for their stadium giant LED screens (the company installed UK football’s first stadium big screens at Villa Park in 1997 and has dominated the market since then) ADI have long offered a far more comprehensive set of products and services that extends to LED scoreboards and perimeter advertising as well as LCD screens for concourse and hospitality areas. Live Venue is able to service content across all of these media, with the ability to manage multiple different channels throughout the stadium.
Why Live Venue?
ADI CEO Geraint Williams explains the thinking behind Live Venue: “Network speeds are currently doubling roughly every couple of years, meaning the realms of possibility change incredibly quickly. Look at the home market – even two or three years ago you’d never have considered the possibility of streaming live HD video over the internet and this is now what people do every day with services like Netflix. When you apply that to the commercial market, with dedicated lines and guaranteed levels of service, it actually becomes incredibly cost-effective, particularly when scaled to a number of clubs. Just as the ‘cloud’ model has taken the home market by storm we expect the same in the broadcast market in the coming years.
“Processing in cloud computing is done remotely; we do the same with Live Venue, delivering content feeds down the line to the playout location. We are able to take the live camera feed from the host broadcaster, transmit it to our studio, and then mix it for broadcast to stadium screens and send back to the stadium in real time with no latency.
“The club can save money in a number of ways; as well as capital expenditure, there’s a number of economies of scale at play. Rather than us sending staff to individual stadia on matchday, they can work from our headquarters, saving on fuel and it also means they can be shared across multiple matches on a day, whilst the club don’t have to spend money training local staff. From a practical point of view, direct comms links to the Live Venue studio mean that club personnel can maintain constant contact throughout the match.
“For us, there’s the ability to manage broadcasts to multiple stadia from a single location. This means we can centralise technical knowledge and gives us complete control of the studio. There’s always the risk that you can turn up at a club on matchday and someone has interfered with equipment they shouldn’t have since you were last there!”
“Obviously these economies of scale improve with more customers – this season has seen Live Venue rolled out at Goodison Park and we have a further 3 clubs currently signed up for the 2012/13 season.”
Live Venue is far more than just an innovative way of delivering content. Central to the proposition is a powerful collaborative software platform, ensuring bespoke channels can be created to suit the needs of each club, says Williams.
“Whilst many of our competitors offer a fairly short list of standardised products, ADI’s strength has always been our flexibility and ability to offer truly bespoke solutions. Every Club has their own requirements and their own way of doing things. Live Venue is built around a number of different modules – we call them “bolt-ons” – that our customers can choose from (these might be anything from a live stats package to on-screen promotions that can change depending on the weather) – with the ability to create custom modules as required.”
The collaborative element of Live Venue means that clubs are able to manage various elements of the programming themselves. For example, at Everton the club manage the stadium scoreboards which also feature elements such as match statistics, teamsheets and substitutions, all updated in real time via a browser-based control panel. They also manage playlists of advertising content on the concourse monitors, which they can update easily simply by dragging and dropping content.
Maximising Matchday Experience
A key part of ADI’s offering is their ability to deliver a comprehensive solution to their customers encompassing not just technology but also content. With thousands of matchday programmes behind them, ADI’s dedicated inhouse Production department offer an unrivalled mix of experience and expertise. ADI create bespoke programming for each Club they work with, many of which feature recent highlights and exclusive interviews with players, managers and staff in the build up to the match.
Williams explains: “Far from being the expensive luxury it was once perceived as, modern clubs recognise that fresh, informative and entertaining programming is a key ingredient that adds real value to the matchday experience, which can be measured in long term ticket sales. It’s also important to acknowledge the real commercial value of bringing fans to the stadium early – it’s far better that they’re drinking and eating in their bars than outside of the stadium.”
Maximising Media Rights
Williams acknowledges that media rights play an important role in the modern stadium technology market, but is quick to point out the commercial aspects of their solution, which aims to allow clubs to maintain control of their commercial rights.
“This is a market that has become quite aggressively targeted in recent years; it’s one that constantly evolves based around rights and technologies, particularly since the advent of digital perimeter advertising and the growth of overseas Premier League coverage.
“The packages we offer differ from many of our competitors as they are not based around club advertising rights, but around technology and the ability to deliver content – the same remit we have followed for the last 15 years. We have no interest in managing clubs’ perimeter advertising rights; our solution means they retain complete control of their rights, allowing them to maximise their value, rather than being locked into inflexible long term deals.”
Williams explains that all of their solutions are designed to do one – and frequently both – of two things: improve matchday experience; or maximise club revenue and engagement with fans.
“We offer solutions to commercialise Clubs’ in-stadium advertising rights, helping to offset technology and running costs. With control of hundreds of screens throughout the stadium, we are able to offer a fully integrated platform to advertisers and each screen – be it stadium LED, concourse LCD or hospitality LCD – has different zones that can be used for different uses.
“We’ve also pioneered the concept of crowd-facing digital perimeter advertising and our eurodigiBOARD product features an additional strip of LED on the rear which can be used to promote sponsors and club messages to fans in the stands. This doubles up not only as commercial space, but also as a great way to send crowd rousing messages to the home fans!”
Williams once again returns to the complete service that ADI offer: “The key point about Live Venue is that it isn’t a stand-alone solution, it’s merely part of our fully integrated and all-inclusive solution that we offer to clubs. It’s a range of services that has grown organically to suit the needs of our customers rather than the needs of commercial advertisers and ensures that our customers can be sure that their interests are at the heart of everything we do.”