ITV Sport scores try with LiveU Technology at Rugby World Cup
Joseph O'Halloran
| 31 October 2019

Aiming that the only thing that is dropped will be the ball and not pictures, especially in the final on 2 November, ITV Sport, premier UK sports producer for the ITV network, has turned to LiveU to provide an enhanced viewer experience at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC).

The LiveU technology will see use for additional viewer engagement and as a tertiary disaster recovery (DR) solution, backing up satellite and fibre feeds from the action in Japan. ITV Sport has been using portable LU600 HEVC units around the country in three teams, each providing a range of additional material beyond match coverage.

The LiveU DR setup is two-fold. ITV Sport has deployed an LU600 and LiveU Xtender active external antenna (the first time in Japan) for the tertiary backup direct to its playout provider Red Bee Media in the UK. Secondly, at ITV Sport’s Maidstone Central Apparatus Room, a receiving LU600 and another Xtender can be used to send a feed from there to their playout provider should they be unable to use traditional links.

The roving teams, with embedded reporters, send material direct to ITV Sport in the UK for both edits and live reports. This enables the producer to concentrate on the content without having to worry about how the material gets back to the UK. Additionally, highlights presentation links are also sometimes fed via LiveU.

“We’ve used Live with our reporting teams for a number of years successfully to enhance coverage,” explained ITV Sport Productions technical director, sport Roger Pearce. “At this year’s RWC we have two separate jobs for LiveU: live/store/forward material from our reporting teams and DR feeds from our presentation studios and OBs.”

Pearce also revealed the that the idea to use it as a traditional contribution path only came to the forefront when they were looking at low-cost options to provide high-quality DR feeds that are completely diverse to normal fibre and satellite delivery.

After testing using existing LiveU infrastructure, it proved a simple and cost-effective solution, said Pearce. “The transmission DR feeds workflow is important to us as it provides a usable feed at a reasonable cost,” he added.

“For events like the RWC where failure is not an option, it’s a valuable tool to ensure we deliver our coverage reliably to the viewer. For our roving teams LiveU gives them the freedom to roam, and flexibility to get material quickly to air. The opportunity to use LiveU to provide cost-effective contribution feeds has been very successful and we look forward to their future developments.”