Covering Ironman Australia


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KitPlus recently chatted with Stephen Kane, production manager of IRONMAN Oceania in Australia and New Zealand. IRONMAN is one of the leading mass sports brands in the world, consisting of over 260 events across 44 countries including long (IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3) and short (Sprint and Olympic) distance triathlons, mountain bike stage racing, road cycling and running, both marathon and trail. One of those events is IRONMAN Australia, which takes place yearly on the Australian east coast.

What was different about the coverage of IRONMAN AUSTRALIA this year?
The 2019 IRONMAN Australia took place at Port Macquarie and captured not only local attention but also a worldwide social media and live streaming audience, who joined the local spectators to watch the athletes live and in-the-moment, across various social channels. Live webcasting and streaming specialists Next Up Digital were tasked with finding a solution for IRONMAN Oceania, who is the team responsible for covering the event creative and production. They landed on Dejero’s EnGo mobile transmitter and a 4-channel WayPoint receiver. The live broadcast of IRONMAN Australia reached over 1.5 million viewers in the first day and grew as the world woke up to the event.

What was your priority going into this event, on the technology front?
Knowing we were always going to be working within a mobile broadcast environment, the most important thing for us was the technical delivery and access to a network that could support our needs. Prior to the event, it was imperative that we went into this production knowing where our coverage issues may appear, as we were widely relying on mobile networks. Moving through various mobile coverage zones, repeaters and antennas was always going to be a challenge and Dejero helped us overcome these with ease.

What were the challenges faced by the production team?
This whole event is about all-terrain broadcasting. The IRONMAN course is not only challenging for athletes—who need to swim 3.8 km, bike 180 km, and run 42.2 km—but also demanding for the production team who have to follow and capture live coverage of moving athletes. They needed a solution that allowed for reliable, high-quality, and mobile live content capturing. Our events have been broadcast on various channels over the years, and we currently distribute content through many international TV networks, local domestic television networks, and largely on Facebook Watch/Live.

IRONMAN Australia has the added challenge of a large field of non-professional athletes all competing on the same course at the same time. Our live coverage focuses on the lead males and females, which include roughly 40 athletes at peak times, but you need to take in to account the 3,500 other athletes that are out there too. The safety of our athletes, staff, and crew is of primary concern. Broadcast is secondary but is also equally important. Having a well-planned out process is obviously required.

What type of mobile broadcast technology is best suited to the type of event you are running?
Traditional forms of broadcasting, such as RF and microwave, would not be a reliable solution for the crew with over 10 hours of live racing to cover through various terrain. This also applied to the technology needed to deliver footage live to Facebook’s live streaming platform, Facebook Watch, which gained over 1.5 million views. The team wanted to give viewers the best live viewing experience possible and these traditional forms of broadcasting just wouldn’t cut it.

Why did you choose Dejero's EnGo mobile transmitter to make your event coverage possible?
Dejero's Smart Blending Technology, which offers blending solutions in cellular, Wi-Fi, and satellite networks, allowed our production teams to reliably broadcast live and on the go, minimizing any impact of poor network coverage or other interferences (e.g. poor weather). A Dejero exclusive solution, the Smart Blending Technology’s claim to fame is the ability to blend multiple IP connections into one high throughput virtual network and manage the fluctuating bandwidth and latency interferences in real-time to deliver footage with speed and reliability.
In addition to Smart Blending connectivity software, Dejero also offers connectivity services and access to Dejero’s virtual network. Everything is managed in the cloud and backed by industry-leading support. Given the nature of broadcasting and content production, it’s quite attractive to know that in addition to fast and reliable solutions, there is a team of experts readily available to contact for support, 24/7.

Could you summarize your feelings about the use of mobile broadcasting technology for events such as IRONMAN Australia?
Mobile broadcasting has come a long way over the years, and it will become more and more of a need for our business, as will Dejero. Using Dejero was easy, I sat back and watched the magic happen. If there were challenges, the team overcame them and when our crew needed further assistance, it was comforting knowing that we had the support of Dejero themselves, 24 hours a day, to add an additional layer of technical support. Dejero is stable, reliable, and flexible and it delivered beautifully during IRONMAN Australia.


Tags: iss139 | ironman | dejero | streaming | cellsat | 5g | engo | mobile transmitter | facebook live | wi-fi | cellular | satellite | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus

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