A couple of years ago I was approached by someone building out a broadcast network for high school sports in the mid-west. He was looking for low-cost transport for live HD quality broadcasts over either satellite or the Internet. Economic solutions at the time were pretty thin on the ground. At IBC this year I ran in to a solution from Net Insight that just might help high school sports go national.
Net Insight is a company you may not have heard of if you don’t deal with large, distributed production environments. The company delivers solutions that push the envelope of what’s possible over managed connections for large video production operations. For example, at IBC the company was demonstrating the Nimbra 600, carrying four 4K 60 frames per second video streams over a single 1 Gigabit connection. Net Insight uses lossless compression to squeeze each 4K video stream into 250mbps. (The picture on the other end looked stunning, by the way.)
However, what really caught my eye was the Nimbra VA210. This device is used in pairs to transport high quality video across the open Internet with extremely high reliability.
Per Lindgren, Net Insight’s CTO, showed me how a pair of the devices can continue to deliver video even with 40% frame loss. What does that mean? Basically, the video is unwatchable at error rates as high as this. The VA210 was able to completely recover the video with no visible loss. (You can hear Mr. Lindgren discuss the solution in the included short video interview recorded at IBC 2013 this month.)
At around $15,000 a pair, the Nimbra VA210’s aren’t exactly cheap. Keeping in mind, however, that they allow the event to be carried over a pretty standard Internet connection, the devices likely will save a lot of money in network costs over their lifetime. These savings may be enough to make tier 2 and tier 3 live sports a viable proposition for local pay-TV operators to carry on their networks.
Why it matters
For organizations with remote production teams the bandwidth required to move video around between sites can be very expensive.
4K video production will likely cause an explosion in bandwidth costs for decentralized production facilities. Finding ways to save transit bandwidth is critical to keeping 4K production costs down.
Using the Internet to link remote event venues to pay-TV operator video head-ends may make it economic to offer local tier 2 and 3 sports live. However, reliability and quality cannot be compromised.