Broadcast networks can reduce the costs and challenges related to broadcasting live sport if they have an appropriate Enterprise Resource Management software Al Jazeeras announcement earlier this year that it has acquired the broadcast rights to Spains La Liga, Italys Serie A and Frances Ligue 1 football leagues, as well as the Copa America and […]
Broadcast networks can reduce the costs and challenges related to broadcasting live sport if they have an appropriate Enterprise Resource Management software
Al Jazeeras announcement earlier this year that it has acquired the broadcast rights to Spains La Liga, Italys Serie A and Frances Ligue 1 football leagues, as well as the Copa America and South American qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, places its beIN Sports network, and the Middle East, on the global sports stage. Broadcasting live sports events presents highly complex, dynamic and fast-paced challenges as the ever-increasing demand for live coverage stretches farther around the globe to more networks serving more households. An effective enterprise resource management (ERM) software-based system can help any broadcaster reduce the costs of producing live sports by automating complex workflows, improving collaboration among internal and external personnel, and ensuring interoperability among disparate systems.
Planning and Preparation
What viewers see live on their televisions, computer screens, tablet computers and even on their smartphones is the result of months of advance planning and preparation. ERM solutions handle all aspects of resource management during the process of searching for, sourcing and securing internal and external resources, managing those resources during the events and in post-event reporting and reconciliation. Complicated and time-consuming tasks such as sending content from New York City to London for editing become as simple as dragging and dropping a file.
The ERM system makes the transfer, notifies the sender and receiver, and even reserves a specific editing bay so the work can begin immediately.
Broadcasters are increasingly adopting a borrow instead of buy approach to securing external resources. Some ERM solutions can even automate and facilitate collaboration with partners and freelancers, allowing broadcasters to find, evaluate, book and manage third-party resources inside the scheduling system itself, providing immediate access to the best resources at the lowest costs.
With a single ERM solution managing the schedules for all resources across multiple organisations and providers, broadcasters are assured that duplication of effort is reduced, which is critical to ensuring all of the moving parts required for complex sporting broadcasts mesh together.
The interoperability and connectivity of ERM systems also allows these workflows to be deployed and triggered at other control centres.
Interoperability allows certain ERM systems to interact with virtually any third-party device or system, providing a single point of record one booking that is the nucleus for all of the systems involved in the feed. Changes are made once and then modifications, whether to start time, end time or technical parameters, are communicated automatically to all connected systems and vendors. This frees users to move on to their next urgent tasks while the external systems continue to report status information back to the core system.
Each external system receives its own unique message containing the specific details required by that system, as well as the ability to insert returned values back into the core system when the booking is acknowledged. The template files for these messages can be individually edited and re-applied to immediately accommodate new or expanded functionality from a given system or device.
Status messages sent from the external systems provide live awareness of the health and progress of a feed and trigger an alert if trouble occurs. If an external system reports any device is down, whether currently involved in a feed or not, this equipment is immediately and automatically marked as out of service in the core system without requiring any human interaction. This prevents doomed feeds from being scheduled in the chaotic environment where no one has noticed or been able to manually update the system. Equipment is automatically returned to operational status upon message from the external system.
Even for sporting events, where lengths are dictated by a clock, broadcasters must be prepared to extend transmission feeds to account for variants such as inclement weather and overtime or injury time.
These affect everything in the sky and on the ground, from the uplink trucks, satellite channels and teleports; to the fiber network; to the staff and freelance personnel crewing the event.
An intelligent ERM system allows these changes to be executed into a single booking of record, which in turn will automatically pass the information to downstream systems to facilitate the extended on-air coverage. Additionally, crew schedules and reporting overtime hours to the payroll system can be automated, a critical capability for improving efficiency in cost control, time keeping and reconciliation processes. Broadcasters are increasingly migrating most of the crewing to local freelancers. Without an integrated solution, manually reconciling payroll for 1000 freelancers with all of the scheduling modifications that occur during the event would be virtually impossible.
Throughout each event, hundreds of feeds will be processed and delivered to air and managing inbound and outbound feeds becomes mission-critical. Broadcasters that rely on a manual process for managing and scheduling feeds are at risk for double entries, inaccuracies and redundant tasks, all leading to reduced efficiency and lost revenue, time and reputation.
Once the event is a wrap and viewers turn away, the work continues for the teams tasked with evaluating what went well and areas of improvement. The granular reporting capabilities of ERM software allow financial controllers to evaluate the financial performance of all resources, departments, facilities, vendors, and even specific equipment and personnel to realise the inefficiencies that exist and effectively plan to reduce them in the future. The interoperability capabilities that connected operations during the broadcasts the live interaction and updating mean that reporting extends across all departments in all locations.
With vendors and partners connected and collaborating, costs are immediately reported directly into the system and updated instantly with every modification of a booking; there is no waiting 30 days for invoices to get the big picture.
With external systems connected and collaborating reporting-specific statuses and errors directly into your system both in the booking cycle and in the life-cycle of specific devices detailed operational reporting is now centralised and available, even for systems that dont have their own reporting tools.
Improved connectivity and collaboration, and access to a resource community in real-time are the key benefits provided by ERM software. The complexity of mounting broadcasts of sporting events will continue to grow, increasing the need for automation and efficiency to drive increased ROI. Staying cost-effective and maximising profitability in an environment that presents so many game-changing variables is only possible with the innovative resource management capabilities of ERM software.
Joel Ledlow is chief executive officer of ScheduALL.