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Broadcasting live tennis around the globe, from net to net

Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 14, 2018

4 min read

In 2014, Perform Group and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) came together to create a landmark 10-year partnership worth over half a billion dollars, which was defined as one of the most significant investments in women’s sport at the time. Since then, WTA Media has been responsible for the production and distribution of content and broadcast footage for the WTA’s annual global tour.

Under the agreement, Perform Group has committed to broadcast multiple feeds from various WTA events in locations as diverse as Europe, China and Uzbekistan. Several tournaments take place in parallel throughout the year, challenging Perform Group to deliver simultaneous broadcasts of overlapping events.

The scale was substantially greater than the previous years’ operations, as John Learing, Managing Director of WTA Media and Executive Vice President of production partnerships at Perform Group, explained: “We went from producing about 700 matches a year to more than 2,500 matches in a single season. So, we needed to partner with someone who understood how to contribute and distribute all of this content via the myriad platforms that broadcasters are using in the 21st century.”

Perform Group wanted to move towards a fibre network to improve the quality and reliability of the broadcast output and viewer experience. It had been looking at an IP media network delivery model for several years, and wanted a network designed for the high stakes of live video. This is where we could come in.

In addition to tackling the sheer scale of the content delivery requirement – moving from about 700 matches to more than 2,500 a year –and overcoming the logistical challenges of operating in so many different locations, Perform Group also wanted to centralise and simplify its relationships with suppliers of media contribution services.

Our solution: a worldwide fibre network, and added extras

This is where we could step in to deliver a unique solution. We leveraged our global infrastructure and designed a unique global media network solution that could deliver video from the WTA Tour’s 47-plus locations across the globe. This included “dual and diverse” fibre connections designed for the stringent requirements of live video, with built-in redundancy and two geographically diverse paths to Perform Group’s location for scalability and resiliency.

We were able to deploy our full suite of professional media solutions for WTA Media, with four key elements: a global broadcast operation, global field operations, a global broadcast sales team and a global media network based on fibre with additional satellite options.

“The main benefit of fibre over satellite is scalability,” says Perform Group’s Senior Vice President of Commercial Distribution Sam Sandeman-Allen. “If you have multiple tennis venues where matches are taking place simultaneously, you can end up with many different video signals being pushed out all at the same time and it’s that sheer scale that favours fibre over satellite for this specific project.”

We were pleased to also integrate our NetCam camera to provide unique angles for enhanced fan viewing experiences, without distracting or disrupting the players during a competitive match. Viewers get to be right in centre court, at the net, seeing the speed of the game and the athleticism of the players.

Perform Group is now able to offer more live content to broadcasters, with every match and every tournament delivered live in high quality. Using transmissions of multiple feeds from every WTA event and by covering multiple WTA events in parallel, WTA Media has increased the amount of content produced for the WTA Tour per year by approximately 2,600 hours.

Our high bandwidth and low latency network has improved the consistency and quality of the content distribution, along with increased service levels and network availability, to deliver a better viewing experience.

We’ve been able to help WTA Media move from a complex scenario – where they used multiple video and data networks from various providers with different standards and conversion requirements – to one partner providing a single content network for all media from all courts at WTA events around the world.

As for the future, Perform Group and WTA Media will be looking at how they can build on the winning foundation in place to deliver more innovative and engaging experiences to bring sport fans closer to every aspect of the game.