Choosing A Remote Commentary Solution

If the last year has taught the Media & Entertainment (M&E) industry anything, it’s the value of not doing something simply because that’s the way it’s always been done. Increasingly, success has favoured those who are creative, flexible and open to trying new things.
Remote commentary is an integral part of a Remote Integrated Model production strategy

In fact, it’s hard to find any M&E workflow that hasn’t morphed –at least a little—in response to the pandemic and efforts to minimize the exposure of staff to COVID-19.

Even the announce booth where games are called, color commentary added and an overarching narrative created has succumbed to the realities of the pandemic as play happened in empty or nearly empty stadiums.

Rather than loading up small booths with a play-by-play announcer and one or two colleagues, broadcasters in many cases turned to technology for an alternative that would allow booth talent to work from home or some other remote location to more than comply with restrictive social distancing mandates.

In the process, they learned some valuable lessons about other benefits remote commentary workflows offer.


Advantages of Remote Commentary

Workforce flexibility: Thanks to remote commentary, it is possible to assign commentators to a sports production on the East Coast in the morning, and bring them back to call a second event on the West Coast later that day.

Further, the ability to work remotely means sports producers have a better chance of recruiting expert commentators who would like to participate in calling a particular game but due to local obligations are unable to travel to the event venue. 

Resource flexibility: Remote commentary often is an integral part of a REMI (Remote Integrated Model) production strategy. As such, it makes possible far greater flexibility in the deployment of resources –both technical and personnel—to support game commentary.

Rather, than needing a booth tech or producer and a small mixer at each sports venue for every event, that technology can be centralized and/or virtualized in the cloud and personnel needed to run it in the booth reassigned to other REMI production tasks.

Business flexibility: There are no geographic limitations to deploying remote commentary thanks to the internet and cloud computing. That means a game called in English for a U.S. audience can be called simultaneously in real time, for instance, in Spanish for Spanish speakers in the U.S. and around the world. Instantly, new business opportunities open as distribution broadens to markets where fans can listen to games called in their native tongues.

At the same time, the expense of sending commentators to the venue is eliminated, making remote commentary even more financially attractive.


Remote Commentary Applications

For example, while U.S. Census data from 2018 reveals 2.6 million Spanish speakers lived New York City, a total of nearly a half million Chinese speakers (Cantonese and Mandarin combined) and over 200,000 Russian speakers lived there, as well. Similarly, breakdowns of other major markets reveal hundreds of thousands of speakers of other languages in the U.S., including Tagalog and Vietnamese.

Forward-thinking local TV broadcasters could use remote commentary to provide real-time translation and presentation of local news in these languages and reach these new viewers over the top, instantly growing their audiences and ad revenue potential.

A second application is localization of another sort. In this instance, remote commentary gives broadcasters a way to customize play call and color commentary of games for TV viewers in the local markets of both the home and away teams, as well as a national call for the rest of the country.

A third application is remote commentary for closed circuit presentations. For example, while a national broadcaster may offer color commentary and a race call for a prominent horse race, a closed circuit presentation of the same event for gamblers could offer to facts, statistics, odds reports and other commentary geared specifically to their interests.


TVU Remote Commentator

TVU Networks is offering a remote commentator solution that has helped broadcasters begin leveraging the benefits of not sending play-by-play and color announcers to sports venues.

The solution takes advantage of the public internet, cloud services where the TVU remote commentator solution runs, and laptops or smartphones used locally by commentators to deliver calls and commentary from multiple commentators that are perfectly synced with game action and one another.

With the TVU Networks Remote Commentator, there is zero drift. That means viewers at home will never be able to tell the announce staff is offsite and working remotely. The TVU solution delivers broadcast-quality audio from commentators, regardless of their locations as long as they have an internet connection. 

Working in the cloud makes it easy to reassign audio channels as needed, and with the solution’s file-based workflow, commentators can even upload files and add voiceovers to recorded content. 

Like TVU Partyline, the remote commentator solution also supports private communications between a producer and talent without risk of going to air. With push-to-talk functionality, it’s simple to maintain independent control over audio intended for those private communications and live commentary intended to go to air.

According to Paul Shen, founder and CEO of TVU Networks, Remote Commentator is the first of many new solutions from TVU Networks that leverage TVU microservices for fast turnaround of new solutions to meet the unique and changing requirements of customers.

An illustrative explanation on the use of remote commentary solution
The TVU solution delivers broadcast-quality audio from commentators, regardless of their locations as long as they have an internet connection. 

Remote Commentator In Action

A recent use of TVU Remote Commentator underscores how it can solve real production problems and open up new revenue opportunities.

A large broadcaster specializing in the production and distribution of golf tournaments used TVU Remote Commentator to forego the expense of sending commentators for a U.S. audience to a large golf tournament while also protecting them from possible COVID-19 exposure.

At the same time, separate Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking announce teams worked the event, offering audiences around the world separate real-time productions of the tournament in their native languages. 

Not only did TVU Remote Commentator make it simple to do, but it helped the broadcaster increase its audience size and the potential to earn additional advertising revenue.


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