Creating a Virtualized Environment for Sports Production

Posted June 15, 2021

Virtualized video content production and distribution over IP has increased dramatically in the last few years, creating opportunities for sports content creators, distributors, and consumers alike.

On June 11th, Zixi’s Sr. Director of Field Engineering Kevin Parks joined fellow industry leaders at the 2021 SVG IP Production Summit to discuss how virtualized production is changing the creation and distribution of content across the world. Chief Editor of Sports Video Group (SVG) Jason Dachman moderated the panel which included representatives from Activision Blizzard ESports, Grass Valley, NEP Group, and TAG Video Systems.

The Enormous Potential for Virtualization in Sports Broadcasting

Despite differences in approach, the panelists discussed the many advantages of virtualized production and distribution infrastructure for live sports producers and and their technology partners.

Blizzard described the essential role virtualization has played already for ESports sector in enabling backend support and better performance for customers and internal teams alike, while others described how cloud-based infrastructure provides more flexibility, allowing users to implement agile, efficient workflows, rather than rely on static and often more expensive physical inputs. Another theme discussed was the role end users play in the adoption of virtual service offerings and how that rapid adoption of cloud-based entertainment offerings will drive faster B2B innovation, made easier by software-defined workflows. Panelists agreed that workflow agility, ease of scaling, and ability for customization were among the major benefits of cloud virtualization.

Zixi Highlights the Importance of Creating Easy Access to Cloud Infrastructure for Clients

To help customers take advantage of the cloud without the added hassle of managing infrastructure, Zixi recently introduced Zixi as a Service, which provides broadcast media infrastructure as a service allowing users to leverage an efficient end-to-end virtual solution for video processing and delivery over any IP network.

With ZaaS, Zixi hopes to further optimize costs for our customers by increasing efficiency. For example, managing and reducing egress costs by organizing, cataloguing, and improving ease-of-access for teams so teams get what they need, when they need it – without spending excess time searching for data. All of this is made possible by Zixi’s seamless integration of ZaaS into its Software-Defined Video Platform (SDVP).

When asked how virtualization of production workflows will provide benefits to both production teams, distributors and consumers, Parks highlighted one of the key benefits: the ability to consolidate and connect the dots between decentralized workflows. Parks alluded to Zixi’s partnership with the NHL this year, where in addition to their normal feed from every arena for every game, the production team set up 6 extra cameras at each event and used Zixi to assimilate them into a cloud location where customers could view streams, and pull certain content based on their specific needs. In the new era of streaming, virtualization means more content being available in new and exciting ways with the ability to more easily repurpose or repackage that content for customized audiences based on geographic or demographic characteristics.

When it comes to tangible benefits of virtualized streaming architecture, the panelists agreed the most impactful improvements were:

  1. Ability to quickly stand up high quality, high reliability feeds
  2. Allowing content creators more flexibility in terms of capture and contribution
  3. Easier monitoring and orchestration in a single pane-of-glass view with cloud-based control planes
  4. Cost reduction from more efficient, software-defined solutions
  5. Streamlined workflows that promote ease of interoperability

When asked what he thought was coming in the next two years with a mass migration to virtualization, Parks pointed to 5G production enabling ultra-low latency delivery as having massive implications for the future of the cloud. He reiterated the example of Zixi working with AWS and Verizon in production using dozens of 5G-enabled devices that will allow for studio everywhere capabilities. Feeds can be aggregated similarly as mentioned above to enable customers and consumers to view a wider variety of content at higher quality and faster speeds. 5G enabled smartphones and tablets, or edge devices, are already proving their value as tools for the creation of content that will have a massive impact on the future of content delivery as consumer tastes and preferences rapidly change. Zixi’s hope is to help organizations and individuals alike ensure they are distributing their content at the lowest latency and highest quality available over any IP network

To watch the panel session free on-demand, visit the Sports Video Group virtual event page,

To learn more about Zixi’s solutions for virtualizing broadcast streaming infrastructure, please contact Zixi Sales.