Cycling fans worldwide enjoyed EBU’s dynamic live coverage of UCI’s World Championships delivered via an agile acquisition system using LiveU to manage signals from various sites.

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The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, held from August to September in Scotland, marked the first time the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) combined its multiple World Championships into a single, integrated event. Thirteen competitions took place across seven cycling disciplines including mountain biking, road cycling and track (men’s and women’s) plus para-cycling, resulting in one of the largest cycling events ever held.

Eurovision Sport, the sports arm of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), set up its remote Broadcast Operation Centre (BOC) at the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow. Eurovision Sport is dedicated to securing sports rights and event production. The organisation’s Head of Content & Platforms Franck Choquard said, “Because this event was such a huge project attracting considerable attention, we looked at ways we could use new approaches to make our operations more resilient in the field and therefore more cost-effective overall.”

Agile, Affordable Acquisition

Taking advantage of EBU's ongoing relationship with LiveU, Franck’s team designed an agile, affordable acquisition system using equipment from across the LiveU EcoSystem, resulting in engaging coverage supplied to the increased number of takers around the world for the event. The EBU, the largest public service media alliance in the world, has Member organizations across Europe and Affiliates in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Eurovision Sport’s relationship with LiveU was formalised into an equipment framework two years ago, including field units, cloud services and data packages.

“Our discussions with LiveU focussed on two main use cases,” said Franck. “The first was the need to bring signals back from various sites, including from motorbikes, helicopters and other moving vehicles alongside ENG teams, to the BOC, which was operated by our regular production partner Actua Films. The second was to secure the contribution network, connecting ten venues around Scotland, with an ‘ultimate backup’ system.

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“We required a resilient, IP-based set-up with bonding for these, so we used LiveU, bringing back a pair of feeds from each relevant site. This was undoubtedly more cost-effective than using RF and gave us the flexibility we needed.”

Twelve LU800s, operated by Actua Films, were used in multi-camera mode, both for content acquisition and for securing signals. The LU800 can be used for complex remote productions – each unit is able to send up to four frame-synced feeds in high resolution (1080p50/60, 10-bit
HDR) to remote production locations in a facility or cloud-based. Franck remarked, “LiveU is especially advantageous for use on moving vehicles.”

Production and Distribution

As well as contribution, Eurovision Sport and its content takers worked with LiveU's gear for production and distribution tasks. Eurovision Sport used a hybrid workflow it has developed that deploys SDI where possible to the BOC, backed up by LiveU cloud services. Franck said, “We used both LiveU Matrix and Cloud Connect to contribute the production feeds in LRT (the LiveU Reliable Transport protocol) or SRT to some of the takers.

“We have our Digital Content Hub, which automates live content management, and which we used in combination with the LiveU EcoSystem. For instance, we had takers who wanted a lot of material for their digital platforms but didn’t want the cost of accessing satellite feeds. Our LiveU workflow worked especially well for that. For several events, some takers then went on to create their own remote productions.”

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Cloud Services and Management

LiveU Matrix is a managed cloud service used to share and receive live feeds with, and from, broadcasters and other stakeholders around the world who are either part of or outside the user’s organization. While users focus on content creation, the LiveU service receives and distributes feeds over multiple protocols – LRT based feeds generated from LiveU field units and RTMP/SRT feeds received from other sources. A web-based platform, its UI features content discovery tools ranging from straight searches to metadata filters.

Cloud Connect, on the other hand, is used to deliver live feeds into existing cloud-based production platforms, not only supporting remote productions but also handling social media clips, program localisation content and feeds to cloud-based MCRs. Output options are also flexible, including NDI, RTMP, MPEG-TS and SRT, so that Eurovision Sport can take their LRT streams from the transmitters and instantly ingest them into production software.

Franck values the completeness of LiveU's services across the video production chain, and its reach across their member broadcasters in terms of on-premise reception. “We are constantly looking at ways to innovate with our partner LiveU," he said.