Announcers collaborating and calling games remotely is creating new benefits for broadcasters and Rightsholders.View Related Products
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – FEBRUARY 15, 2022 – With the 2022 Winter Olympics right around the corner, the eyes of the U.S. television industry once again are trained on NBC Olympics and how it will leverage Remote Integration Model (REMI) production, especially during the pandemic and the strict protocols put in place in Beijing to limit possible COVID-19 exposure.
In mid-January, the network made its plans known during an online media event. The latest iteration of its well-established REMI implementation extends beyond the TV technology used to produce the games, such as graphics, replays and editing, into the announcer booth.
Due to the pandemic, the network will not send its announcer to Beijing but instead have its commentators work remotely from the NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
Making it possible to call a game and present color commentary from a remote location rather than a sporting venue, however, is nothing new in the era of COVID-19. The pandemic has motivated many broadcasters, not simply NBC, to keep announcer crews at home—away from possible exposure on the road—and give them the tools needed to turn in a professional broadcast that keeps viewers informed and entertained.
TVU Remote Commentator
In response to broadcasters around the world, TVU Networks developed TVU Remote Commentator to enable on-air announcers to work from home or an office rather at a stadium or arena. (To be absolutely clear, NBC Olympics is using its own solution, not TVU Remote Commentator.)
During the era of Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Meetings, the idea of using the internet to connect remote parties with video and audio is well-established. However, while these remote solutions are good enough for video conferences, business meetings, and classes, they simply don’t offer everything needed to be considered as a viable alternative for in-venue game calls and color commentary.
Like those using internet teleconferencing apps, TVU Remote Commentator announcers log on to an instance running in the cloud from an internet browser running on their laptop or desktop computers—but that’s where the similarities begin to evaporate.
Announcers located far away from the venue and each other watch a low-latency, high-quality video game feed. TVU Remote Commentator then automatically makes sure all of the members of the announcer team stay in sync—not just with game action, but also with one another—so their presentation is every bit as professional as if they were on site.
Built-in support for full mix-minus ensures members of the announcer team can hear each other without the confusing sound of their own voices coming back into their headsets. TVU Remote Commentator even gives announcers video of one another on a back channel so they can see each other as if they were together in the booth and react to the body language of one another.
Protecting announcers from exposure during the pandemic is only one of many benefits a remote commentary solution brings to the table. In fact, when the pandemic finally recedes, there will continue to be several good reasons for broadcasters to continue to rely on announcers who work remotely.
More Languages, More Potential Revenue—Rightsholders, sports organizations, leagues and schools looking to open up new markets for televised sports can use TVU Remote Commentator to support different announcer teams calling the same game in different languages for localized audiences.
While all announcers see low-latency video of the game from the venue, each member of an announcer team calling a game in a given language only sees and hears other members of his or her announcer team. The localized game call is then output via separate audio channels in sync with game action for distribution to viewers.
Dramatically Lower Travel Expenses—With TVU Remote Commentator travel expenses for announcers can drop to zero—although there may be times when a broadcaster wants an announcer team on site. While some broadcasters and sports organizations may simply accept the associated expenses of putting announcer teams on the road as a cost of doing business, many others may see the substantial savings as a determining factor in deciding which sports are covered and which aren’t.
More Sports Covered—While decision-makers at smaller universities and those who oversee media for sports with smaller fan bases may find they can expand their sports coverage thanks in part to these savings, the benefits of broader-based coverage are far greater than a simple dollars-and-cents equation. Increased coverage can build a tighter relationship with alumni, expose the school’s sports programs to a wider pool of potential recruits and foster a closer connection with alumni and the public at large.
Personnel Flexibility—Giving booth personnel a way to work remotely opens up opportunities to assign announcers to games in ways that previously were impossible due to travel conflicts. Further, making it possible for announcers to work from where they are means securing a substitute play-by-play announcer or color commentator will be far easier when illness or emergency prevents an announcer from working as scheduled.
Over the past two years, broadcasters and other rightsholders have made tremendous strides in transforming live production workflows in response to the pandemic.
Attitudes about relatively new technologies in remote production, such as the cloud, flipped 180 degrees. Concerns about the security of valuable media assets stored and processed in the cloud gave way among many production professionals as alternatives to in-person video production workflows were deemed necessary.
Performing typical production tasks like switching video, rolling in replays, mixing audio and generating graphics and titles migrated to the cloud where virtual equivalents of the devices traditionally used to perform those functions resided.
Similarly, the pandemic has changed attitudes about how and where announcers should work in an effort to guard against exposure to COVID-19. While enabling announcers to collaborate, remote commentary limits opportunities for exposure to COVID-19, the long-term effects will prove to be more far-reaching.
The ability to call games remotely with the help of tools like TVU Remote Commentator positions broadcasters, sports organizations and schools to enjoy greater efficiencies, have more scheduling flexibility and incur far lower travel expenses when it compared to business as usual.
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