Network to leverage scalable software solution for enhanced content delivery speed 

By Ed Dixon |  SportsPro Media

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  • OpenDrives to also provide next-gen IT architecture for 2023 Super Bowl and Women’s World Cup

  • Fox Sports planning “biggest effort yet” for World Cup, with 90 HDR cameras being deployed across its operations

Broadcast giant Fox Sports has brought software-led storage solutions provider OpenDrives to provide next generation IT for its biggest sports broadcasts, including the 2022 Fifa World Cup 2022 and 2023 Super Bowl.

The agreement will see OpenDrives’ IT architecture implemented at events into 2024. The California-based company combines flexible, scalable software solutions with high-performant hardware to support live broadcasters faced with new formats, environments and technologies.

For next year’s World Cup in Qatar, Fox Sports will be running more than 90 simultaneous camera feeds all shot in high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, covering four matches per day across eight stadiums that are geographically distanced by 75 kilometres.

The tournament has been described by Fox Sports’ Kevin Callahan, vice president of field operations and engineering, as the network’s “biggest effort yet”. He added that there will be 80 different live feeds “at a minimum of 1080p at 50p HDR, not to mention UHD”.

Fox also plans to use OpenDrives’ system for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, which is being held in Australia and New Zealand, and the 2024 Uefa European Football Championship in Germany.

OpenDrives’ offering provides a modular, portable system with a turnkey installation to reduce ‘complexity, physical footprint and set-up time’. According to the company, traditional architecture takes days or weeks to set-up, while its own solution can be up and running in less than an hour.

Using IP-based standard open protocols, OpenDrives integrates broadcast technology with data solutions providers, such as Google, to serve as the centralised hub and is designed to ensure smooth onsite connections with real-time access to content.

OpenDrives has already worked with Fox Sports on its live coverage of the National Football League (NFL), Nascar and golf’s US Open, among others.

“Real-time access to media is critical,” said Callahan. “We need to have the ability to move content back and forth down to the very millisecond – OpenDrives has proven critical to supporting the increased speed, capacity and retention of content delivery and is the pillar to delivering the best viewer experience for the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qatar.

“This is a critical time for Fox Sports – we are broadcasting two of the largest events in the world happening within just six weeks of each other with the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qatar in late 2022 and Super Bowl LVII in February 2023.”

Sean Lee, chief strategy officer at OpenDrives, added: “Through the embedding of containerised compute into the data storage ecosystem on top of a small and dense hardware form factor, customers are able to gain both physical efficiency and a reduction in workflow complexity.

“We’re ushering in next-generation IT infrastructures for a new era for live broadcast. We couldn’t be more ready and more excited to power Fox Sports’ events from Qatar 2022 and beyond.”

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