Midco Sports Network has been taking every step to increase coverage of high school and collegiate sports in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. The award-winning sports network brings local and live coverage of football, hockey, basketball, motorsports, outdoor adventures, and more to thousands of viewers daily.
But, even with a wide breadth of coverage, MidcoSN was still missing games, still coming up short.
MidcoSN had two fully equipped production trailers. These types of trailers have all the bells and whistles needed to put on a solid broadcast. However, with all this equipment, also come challenges.
Learn about the benefits of switching to a central production model by downloading this case study on Midco Sports Network.
The biggest challenge with these production trailers is that it’s hard to load everything up, get the trailer to its destination, unload everything, do the broadcast, and move to the next location -- on time.
The trailer can’t make it to all of the games that MidcoSN wanted to broadcast, which forced the company to either rent out vehicles to fill the gaps or simply miss out on the coverage.
These big production trailers also demand a full crew. And with a full crew comes increased hotel and meal expenses and more time on the road -- which, translates to time away from home for the whole crew.
Craig DeWit, production technology manager at MidcoSN, eventually had to confront the pros and cons of full-scale production trailers.
MidcoSN had a choice. “It was time to either upgrade that trailer or try something new,” DeWit said.
They went with something new.
Erik Speer, systems sales representative at AVI Systems, said that switching to a central production model has already given MidcoSN the chance to expand and scale its production in its footprint.
Chad Thielen, design engineer IV at AVI Systems, explains why central production makes it possible in this video (more below):
Why Central Production?
“People are shifting to centralized production because they get a lot more use out of the more expensive pieces of equipment,” said Thielen. “They also can do a better production, because the crew stays back home, and they’ve got a little better working environment and a little more time to prepare.”
“People are shifting to centralized production because they get a lot more use out of the more expensive pieces of equipment."
The centralized production model is going to allow MidcoSN to scale its production significantly, Thielen explained. “By doing these small, nimble vans, and being able to deploy multiple crews, they’re going to be able to scale their production much faster.”
But, with this model, there are some important considerations that needed to be met ahead of time.
At the forefront, you have to know how much data you’re sending from point A to point B, Thielen said.
“You really have to understand how much bandwidth you’re going to be utilizing,” Thielen said. “The magic is trying to get the best quality with the lowest bandwidth, so picking the right equipment, the right vendors to work with, and the right integrator to work with.”
When capturing all of this data, one key element to keep in mind is the IP (Internet Protocol) factor, he said. Since this data is moving over IP, it’s critical to work with the network to make sure it’s going to be able to pass the amount of data needed.
Advice from Thielen: Start testing early.