Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NZ Cricket Taps Imagen and AWS to Score with Fans and Partners

Cricket’s fanbase is burgeoning worldwide, especially with the sport returning to the Summer Games in 2028 for the first time since 1900. While the bat-and-ball game is popular in the UK, Australia, India, and South Africa, New Zealanders have also developed a passion for it, thanks to efforts by New Zealand Cricket (NZC). This governing body is responsible for running the nation’s two main cricket teams – BLACKCAPS and WHITE FERNS, under 19’s international teams, and domestic men’s and women’s cricket. NZC has grown the sport via club and community programming, and its dedication to players, fans, broadcasters, and commercial partners.

Alongside the sport’s rapid rise in popularity in recent years, pressure to enhance its entertainment value has mounted globally. Broadcasters and sponsors are keen to deepen audience engagement for live cricket match productions, while fans and sporting venues are demanding more ‘sportainment’ in-venue. With this in mind, NZC began establishing a workflow for storing, managing, editing, and redistributing live and archived video in the cloud that leverages Imagen’s advanced feature, Live Connect, which uses AWS Elemental MediaConnect as its match capture backbone, and AWS Elemental MediaLive for transcoding.

“We wanted an off-the-shelf solution that we could get up and running quickly, and Imagen Live Connect had an intuitive interface and feature set that ticked all the boxes,” explained Dev Patel, NZC Commercial Project Lead. “We love that it uses MediaConnect, which provides the security, ease of use, backup links, and cost efficiency required to distribute live SRT feeds to multiple endpoints. We also knew MediaLive would provide the transcoding capabilities to send an RTMP feed to endpoints where necessary.”

The workflow at a glance: Working with Imagen and AWS, NZC established a workflow that meets present NZC needs and can scale for the future. Cameras at each game typically deliver baseband feeds to an outside broadcasting (OB) truck, where feeds are encoded to a secure reliable transport (SRT) stream. AWS Elemental MediaConnect then picks up the SRT feed from the NZC venue/broadcaster, and multiple derivatives are created to brand the feed for various needs.

Imagen runs live capture servers in the AWS Australasia region, which archive the live high-bitrate SRT feed while simultaneously transcoding a web-friendly HLS version for authorized users to watch or clip from in real time. With appropriate permissions, operators can mark in and out points on the live playback and trigger a workflow to receive the high-resolution version of their selected clip. Clips can be cut into a highlight edit using Imagen Live Connect while a match is taking place and made available to post on social media channels. Historical match footage can also be uploaded as IMF video files to NZC’s Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket, from which Imagen can pull the file into the archive.

With support for SRT built into Imagen Live Connect, NZC’s sales team can now easily sell rights overseas in areas where they might not have previously been able to. Dev Patel noted, “Taking a live SRT feed through Live Connect versus via satellite is much more cost-effective for broadcasters with smaller budgets, so we’ve been able to extend our reach into territories where the cost of satellite previously prevented fan access. Imagen’s download control process also lets us set limitations on the content our partners can access and download, which gives us a sense of security.”

“Using Imagen Live Connect and AWS, our content now goes straight to our archive without delay, and we can check or clip it instantaneously, which is where the real commercialisation benefits kick in. The Imagen ‘Search’ feature also makes grabbing clips much faster,” Dev Patel said. “We’ve only just begun to explore what’s possible with the technology and look forward to moving more of our older game footage to the solution.”

As NZC continues to explore the full potential of Imagen Live Connect, it’s also experimenting with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to bring additional value to its sponsors and rights holders. Imagen is currently working with AWS to integrate Amazon Rekognition into its solution, which will enable users like NZC to create smart clip collections through automation so that editors can focus on the creative narrative rather than scrubbing through hours of an event to find the best moments. It’s one of many developments to come.

Visit https://aws.amazon.com/media/ or https://imagen.io

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