As the COVID-19 epidemic forced the global community to stay at home and implement social distancing, many live events for broadcast have been cancelled and indefinitely postponed.
One to these events was the 2020 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in South Korea organised by the International Skating Union (ISU). The China Short Track Speed Skating team, however, decided to go ahead and organised a “Simulation Game of the ISU Championships” in Beijing.
The Simulation Game enabled the skaters to sustain their performance levels and continue their preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The game was organised in a way, which strictly followed the rules and regulations of the ISU World Championship.
Tencent Sports, the main broadcaster responsible for the live production and public broadcast was faced with the challenging work within the strict limitations of the COVID-19 outbreak. The event organiser closed the stadium, didn't allow an audience to minimise the risk of people gathering in one place, and limited the number of essential staff on site.
Going on remote production
To its job with scaled down production, Tencent Sports tapped LiveU to implement a remote production solution, deploying only the necessary equipment on site, including the cameras and wireless transmission units. All the rest, including production, contribution and distribution, was handled by Tencent personnel back in the studio in Tencent's technical centre.
Tencent Sports used four LiveU LU600 HEVC bonding units, which provided solid high-quality live video streams with low delay. All the streaming came to a single high-density LiveU server, with the same delay, optimising LiveU's Precision Timing in its at-home production solution. With support from China Unicom, 5G signal was also available in the field – all the LiveU units combined both 4G and 5G connectivity to ensure optimal streaming conditions.
Ding Yi, chief director of Tencent Sports, said, "Remote production with fewer facilities and lower costs will undoubtedly become a major trend in sports production in the future. During this difficult virus period, it has showed unique advantage under circumstances which didn't allow us to use the traditional ways of production. Looking ahead, we are keen to cooperate with world-leading technology providers like LiveU to deliver creative sports production solutions."
The future of live video streaming
According to Tencent, the live coverage and production workflow was fully enhanced, comparing favourably with previous remote productions. Just like the Simulation Game itself reached real-world Championship levels, Tencent Sports accomplished the same high-quality production standards with its comparatively 'light' infrastructure.
Yaal Eshel, general manager LiveU Asia, said, "Tencent's coverage of the Simulation Game is truly uplifting, showing how 'the show can go on', even with the challenges of this terrible virus. Live sports bring so much enjoyment to fans and viewers everywhere and we're humbled that LiveU is helping a world-leading broadcaster such as Tencent bring an amazing viewing experience to its audiences."
LiveU is a pioneer in IP-based live video services and broadcast solutions, is reinventing live for TV, mobile, online and social media. From backpacks to smartphones, and satellite/cellular hybrid to external antenna solutions, LiveU has a complete range of devices for live video coverage anytime, anywhere.
The Simulation Game was not the first time that Tencent used LiveU’s portable transmission technology. It also used the remote production technology for its reality series called “See where you are going”, a live online programme that followed Olympic champions, movie stars and random guests in six cities around China (Suzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao and Shenzhen) as they perform various tasks.
Separate camera crews live stream the different stars in the different locations and viewers can choose one of six different video rooms to watch the video live on any device. At the end of each programme, Tencent posts an edited version combining all the different clips online.