Loyal and passionate fans are the lifeblood of any sports organization. Fans increase ratings, buy tickets and merchandise, and help generate buzz which in turn reaches other fans. Traditionally, the teams mostly focused on athletics and in-stadium experience, while TV networks focused on video coverage. However, with the advent of online video, teams started looking for new ways to engage and excite fans, and bring them exclusive content like sideline interviews, press conferences, and clips from practice. At the same time, the teams are always looking for flexible and cost-effective solutions for their media productions.
This is where cellular uplink technology comes in. Broadcasting over cellular networks has many advantages for sports teams. One of the most obvious benefits is the ability to stream live content without a hardwired connection or expensive satellite trucks. The use cases range from the highest profile events like NFL and NBA pre and post game content, to full game feeds for collegiate and high school athletic departments.
The content produced by NFL teams is a great example of the benefits of the mobility and ease of use that cellular uplink technology provides. For the past four Super Bowls, LiveU has had the privilege of helping teams create exciting live content for their fans. This year, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks fans will be able to view live feeds of a roaming camera during Media Day, live daily shows from team hotels, pre and post game content, and much more. Oftentimes, the content will come from events and locations where only the team has access, making the team’s website, smartphone apps, and social media accounts the exclusive source. Without cabling or line-of-sight restrictions of older technologies, cellular bonding makes it easy and cost-effective for teams to broadcast their own content while moving freely on the sidelines in the locker room the team hotel, and other places.
Media organizations also heavily utilize cellular uplink technology for sports coverage: for this Super Bowl, we expect several dozens of LiveU units to be utilized for live hits in New York and New Jersey throughout Super Bowl week by major news networks, local New York City area stations, and several visiting news stations from Denver and Seattle.
One of the biggest challenges that teams face in stadiums is cellular congestion. With tens of thousands of fans posting pictures, texting, and getting updates on various apps the local towers can quickly reach capacity. Also, the mere presence of all the devices in a small area creates a lot of ‘radio noise’ over the air, which makes it difficult for a standard smartphone to identify a clean signal. One of the best things to happen to cellular broadcasting in the world of sports was the remote antenna. Special multidirectional external antennas can provide longer range and cleaner signal that often can improve signal strength and bandwidth even when other smartphones struggle. Also, the antennas can be placed outside the congested stadium in order to relay the signal from less congested towers located farther away (for information about how our external antenna works check out The Power of the Xtender).
By using a cellular uplink technology teams around the world are able to bring exclusive, live content directly to fans at home or on the go, and considerably enhance the level of engagement.