The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has announced plans to bring the viewing experience of AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) matches to greater heights through new in-house production and broadcast capabilities, which have been made possible with next-generation FIFA-certified software-based football productions systems.
Supplied to the FAS as part of a five-year contract with broadcast and media systems integrator Ideal Systems, the systems will be utilised in a new football production hub housed at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Facilities at the Jurong East Stadium, Our Tampines Hub shopping precinct, Hougang Stadium and Toa Payoh Stadium have all been retrofitted with remote cameras that relay the feeds back to the new production hub – known as the Production Control Room 2, the second such facility at Jalan Besar Stadium.
New pitch-side camera systems that allow up to 40-time zoom have been installed, while network connectivity has been improved to deliver enhanced reliability and a smoother viewing experience. A new partnership with AE Live – a leading provider of television graphics to the likes of FIFA, World Rugby, Women’s Tennis Association and Sky Sports – will enable revamped graphics, such as for line-ups, to add dynamism to matches.
A plethora of new cutting-edge broadcast technologies will be deployed in Asia for the first time, the core of which is based on ViBox from SimplyLive. ViBox is a software-based NDI enabled production tool for multi-camera football production that brings together all the major components of live football production including a video switcher, audio mixer, dynamic graphics, instant replay, highlights creation and is operated using an intuitive smart touchscreen user interface. The new production hub will also include DELTA-offside, a FIFA-certified offside line review system from Deltacast that uses revolutionary image processing technology to superimpose virtual offside line tied to the pitch without any sensors required on the production cameras.
For matches at the remote stadiums, all the camera feeds are NDI and are aggregated into the SimplyLive Venue Gateway which uses SRT to send the feeds back to the production hub via a Dejero Gateway which provides network aggregation for reliable connectivity across the dual-redundant internet connections. Powered by Dejero Smart Blending Technology, the Dejero GateWay devices aggregate diverse connectivity paths from multiple providers to deliver enhanced reliability, expanded coverage, and greater bandwidth. The Dejero GateWay also provides bonded cellular back-up connectivity in the event both internet connections to a stadium fail. Kiloview SRT encoders and -Dejero gateways are used for the final distribution feeds from the Jalan Besar Production Hub to local broadcasters SingTel and StarHub.
Pitch-side cameras supplied by Ideal Systems include the well-respected JVC GY-HC500, which features 40X zoom. Ideal has also supplied FAS with Singapore’s first BirdDog A200 NDI weather-sealed PTZ sports cameras with 30x zoom and super-fast presets. Ideal also provided the range-topping BirdDog P4K camera for the new chromakey TV studio, which is fully NDI-based using the TriCaster from NewTek.
In a further use of new technologies, Ideal is supplying FAS with a new audio-over-IP intercom system using software-based Unity Intercom and unity iOS and Android apps running on mobile phones as “beltpacks”. This will provide local and remote communication between all users at the production hub and stadiums. Unity allows diverse connections from mobile devices either on wifi or cellular data.
The technology was put in place prior to season curtain raiser, the 2022 AIA Community Shield match – taken out by the Lion City Sailors. Refinements were made during the first round of matches, which concluded on 20 April, to set the stage for an enhanced viewing experience for the remainder of the campaign.
Enhanced on and off-screen offerings
Onscreen talent includes presenter John Dykes, commentators Shehzad Haque and Mark Richmond, former player Rhysh Roshan Rai and football coach Shasi Kumar. Each Matchweek will be headlined by one Match of the Week, where build-up commences 30 minutes prior to kick-off with a pre-match show that delivers detailed insights, team updates, opinions and more.
Content offerings around matchdays have been beefed up with two new shows: the SPL Social and SPL Express. The SPL Social, helmed by Singaporean sports personality Ashikin Hashim – better known as Futbolita – is a 30-minute Facebook show that sees her engage different guest stars every week on a variety of topics that span their thoughts on the SPL to their personalities off the pitch.
On the SPL Express, former professional player and football analyst Rhysh Roshan Rai offers short and sharp analysis on a short-form show that looks back on the previous week of SPL action and previews the upcoming round to bring fans closer to the league.
All SPL and Singapore Cup matches this season will be live-streamed online on the SPL YouTube channel and Mediacorp’s meWATCH platform, in addition to being broadcast on Singtel and StarHub.
On matchdays, experienced “live” sports broadcasting personnel are provided by production partner Mediacorp, including the cameramen, producers, replay operators and other necessary personnel.
Abhishek Ravikrishnan, Manager (Content and Production), FAS, believes that the slew of technical improvements, combined with the stellar line-up of broadcast talent, will add unprecedented value for the fans.
“The fan experience is of great importance to the FAS and as the SPL grows in excitement and reputation, we are constantly striving to deliver the best possible viewing experience to them,” he said. “This is even more vital in light of the current capacity limits at match venues, which means that a majority of our audience will be tuning in online or on television. The new broadcast systems that we have put in place this season with the help of Ideal, together with the best of onscreen talent in Singapore, will ensure that experience is optimal. During the first round of matches, some teething issues that came up were addressed with all partners and we are now confident that going forward, fans can receive a modern, fresh and dynamic experience no matter where they are tuning in from.”
Fintan Mc Kiernan, CEO Ideal Systems Singapore, said: “We are ecstatic to be working with FAS on this project. They have been so supportive of our use of new technologies like NDI (Network Device Interface) and software-based live production tools which has allowed our technology team to create a truly next-generation solution and what we believe is a world-first for IP-based live sports production at a national scale.”