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Installation Trends: Streamlined Sportscasting

May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Daniel Keller

Stadium broadcasting systems shrink in size as they grow in capabilities.

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The Rochester Red Wings, a Minnesota Twins Triple A Minor League affiliate, also added a Slate 2100 to its inhouse production suite. The system upgrade, courtesy of Buffalo, N.Y.-based The HD Group, was designed to address multiple needs for the minor-league team.

“For the Red Wings project, we needed to provide functionality that would facilitate not only video for the scoreboard, but also the ability to record the games for rebroadcast to both the local network and the regional Time Warner network affiliates,” says HD Group President Bob Ferrulo. “The Slate has the capability to provide two discrete program feeds, which enabled us to accomplish both tasks with a single unit.”

For the Red Wings organization, the benefits of combining inhouse and broadcast tasks were significant.

“In the major leagues, larger stadiums are traditionally designed with separate production facilities for inhouse video and broadcast,” Ferrulo says. “The trend now — particularly at the minor-league and collegiate levels — is to network those facilities together, combining them into a single production suite. All-in-one technologies like the Slate make that a very viable solution. The capabilities of this equipment — and the significantly lower cost of installing these systems — has allowed these facilities to do stuff they could never have accomplished even a few years ago, in terms of cost, in terms of functionality, and in terms of personnel.”

In addition to cutting costs, the Red Wings have been able to use the technology to generate new sources of revenue.

“They used to have to bring in Time Warner engineers to handle the broadcast production,” Ferrulo says. “With the new system, they can provide the feed directly. Since Time Warner no longer has to provide personnel, that's enabled the Red Wings organization to negotiate a new arrangement where they're sharing ad revenues.”

“We're seeing a significant trend in this direction at the minor league and collegiate levels,” Scott says. “We've recently completed a number of projects here in the Pacific Northwest, and there's a tremendous move on the part of these large colleges and universities toward managing their own broadcasting. It extends to a wide range of potential sources of revenue, from pay-per-view and cable access to podcasting and webcasting.”

One of the age-old concerns used to be that broadcasting an event live would cannibalize ticket sales. In fact, results have shown the opposite to be true.

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