During an intimate fireside chat with Fox Sports’ Kevin Callahan, VP of Field Operations and Engineering, he unveiled an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at some of the network’s newest camera technologies and systems powering the United States Football League and Qatar 2022.
At the OpenDrives NAB booth, we had the pleasure of hosting Kevin Callahan, VP of Field Operations and Engineering at Fox Sports, as he addressed the audience about the challenges and achievements in broadcasting major live sporting events. Kevin always provides a wealth of information and an insider’s look at the industry and the technologies shaping it, and this presentation did not disappoint! We’ve hosted Kevin in a previous keynote as he and other technologists have shared their insights and industry predictions. Read the case study here.
In recent years, Fox Sports undertook a major initiative to upgrade their broadcast infrastructure capabilities, at once reducing and consolidating the amount of equipment needed to cover events economically and efficiently while upgrading the power and feature sets of their equipment. This was certainly not an easy task, but in working with technology vendors like OpenDrives, who now provides enterprise-grade storage for their mobile outfits, Fox Sports has accomplished their operational goals while preparing themselves for even bigger events in the near future, including Qatar 2022 and the reboot of the U.S.F.L.
The main themes of Kevin’s discussion revolved around preparing for the requirements of these highly anticipated events. He touched upon the shift in recent years to IP-based media distribution, supporting UHD & HDR for live broadcast, and the large number of feeds (15) per match for the 64 matches in Qatar. Previous storage equipment they used simply couldn’t handle newer data formats and the anticipated volume of feeds. Fortunately, OpenDrives not only provides them with the forward-leaning support for newer data formats and types but also with the reduced form factor they need in order to distribute mobile equipment nationally and internationally at a moment’s notice.
Drilling specifically into areas of innovation, Kevin talked about OpenDrives’ various partner integrations and some of the key features we’ve implemented to help achieve higher performance with a smaller form factor. Capabilities such as containerization right on the storage solution means reduction in equipment while also pulling data closer to the storage solution and editors/creatives. With our Open Ecosystem, Fox Sports has been able to navigate away from monolithic single-vendor solutions that are closed off and only work with same-vendor equipment, and more toward a multi-vendor approach where solutions seamlessly integrate and operate well together. This is the vision of the Open Ecosystem, and Kevin confirmed that this is the direction broadcasting organizations will want to take moving forward, toward an Open Ecosystem largely driven by data storage and logistics which can benefit any enterprise in any market or industry.
The partnership between Fox Sports, OpenDrives, and other technology and service vendors in achieving this next-generation Open Ecosystem exemplifies a key principle that we’ve embraced as an organization, which is open-minded listening to ensure that we understand our customers’ pain points and requirements and can then develop the most innovative solutions to help their businesses. Kevin reflected the spirit of this open-mindedness and the need for technology vendors like OpenDrives and their customers to collaborate closely to develop innovations that can have a solid, positive impact on broadcast operations. Innovation should never occur in a silo, and helping customers like Fox Sports break out of the “walled garden” of monolithic single-vendor solutions is the essence of what we always want to achieve—complete customer satisfaction.
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