With the Olympics leading the charge, spectators and major international events will return providing a fillip for broadcasters, vendors and viewers while moves to remote production will mature and nascent technology like 5G will fuel interactive fan engagement. 


Olympics: Leading the charge for sports in 2021

Mark Dennis, Director of Technical Operations, Sunset+Vine 

“This year has forced us all to look at remote production as a serious option and it looks like it will be here to stay.  The speed at which we had to implement new techniques and workflows was quite extraordinary but everyone pulled together to make it work.  For 2021 we now need to look at the processes we have put in place and develop the technology to further enhance our productions. 

Venue connectivity will be key to remote production growth along with the expansion of 5G coverage and 5G broadcast technology to open up more opportunities. Bandwidth efficiency and management will also continue to be important as we develop remote operations. 

Mark Dennis

Mark Dennis

2020 saw us get more involved in productions using software based live production tools covering a wide range of programming including esports, quiz shows and archive-based highlights shows. These tools allowed us to quickly setup productions with contributors from across the globe and with new options added regularly it will be interesting to see how we can develop this area of production going forward. 

We have been working hard on sustainable practices across our productions but we all have a long way to go in this area but hopefully we now have the momentum to really push this forward in 2021.” 

Jamie H

Jamie Hindhaugh

Jamie Hindhaugh, COO, BT Sport 

“Our technology priorities for the year ahead lie in IP infrastructure, 8K and audio enhancements. One significant change from a year ago is that the remote production is now our preferred and standard operating model. The BT Sport Matchday experience is also here for the future and is just the start as we transition from a broadcaster enabling static viewing to one creating experiences alongside the viewing, giving a full 360 approach. 

To that end, you should keep your eye on The FA Cup final and some new customer personalisation options. We expect personalisation of experiences and continued growth of 5G to go hand and in hand and both are very exciting 

Personally, I’m looking forward to all events that we host produce in 2021 as this gives us the option to trial new experiences and innovation. Having fans back in stadiums has to be my number one Christmas wish! 

What we’d like from vendors in 2021 is the same as every year; to be an active part of the BT Sport community.” 

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle, SVP, Technology, Eurosport 

“The coming year will be a huge one for Eurosport, Discovery and sport in general.  We are squarely focused on launching our Eurosport Technology Transformation (ETT) platform. This will enable our continued digital growth and the delivery of the Olympic Games on all screens, supporting the widest reach and greatest consumer experience, however people choose to watch.  

ETT is a significant project that will build one of the largest all 2110 based IP private clouds for live production in the world. This new platform represents the scale and flexibility you can get with a cloud-based approaches and IP based scale. It includes 200,000 audio and video end points and enough band width to handle over 30,000 uncompressed UDH flows.  

The project is a key enabler for our business and Discovery’s Olympics coverage, as well as facilitating the acceleration of remote based production and digital viewers. This year has shown that Eurosport can successfully produce events with extensive remote production.  It is also demonstrated that we can use technology to create virtual connections through experiences such as the award-winning Eurosport Cube. Despite a challenging year for the industry, Eurosport have seen strong and sustained engagement with fans across all platforms from social to OTT to TV. 

As we move into 2021, we will continue to pivot our technology stack to the cloud.  We will start to extend our private cloud for live production to the public cloud.  This will begin with editing and media management and move quickly to live video and audio production.  We will look to continue to partner with our strategic vendors to create greater flexibility and scalability.  Vendor partnerships are expected to move towards features that enable solutions to support the evolution of remote production, helping to create both broader and more targeted content for our consumers.” 

Ian McDonough, CEO, Blackbird  

“What was planned as a quiet year for sport will now have the reset Olympics, the UEFA European Football Championship and 43rd Ryder Cup among other titanic international events spearheading a return to with-audience live events. 

The hope extended by the distribution of vaccines will see crowds return en mass to stadia. The wheels will start to turn into a strong recovery for media and entertainment as a whole through 2021. Pent up advertising demand will unlock and begin to regenerate cash-starved broadcasters while VR and AR will contribute to the video gamification of sport.”