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Fri 19 Nov 2010 12:00 AM

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Neo Sports chooses Oasys as it launches new US channel

International sports broadcaster NEO Sports opts for OASYS automated playout equipment as it launches its new venture to bring live cricket, and more, to the United States and Canada.

Neo Sports chooses Oasys as it launches new US channel
Coming soon to the US of A.\nDESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images.

When the Indian broadcaster NEO Sports Broadcast Pvt. Ltd decided
to launch NEO Sports USA to feed cricket content to America
and Canada,
it needed to expand its infrastructure capabilities in the most efficient way. After
investigating various options, the OASYS automated playout solution was found to
be cost-effective, easy to operate and able to integrate entirely with NEO’s current
equipment.

NEO Sports Broadcast Pvt. Ltd owns and operates two channels:
NEO Cricket, the No. 1 sports channel in India, and NEO Sports, the premium all-sports
channel. NEO Sports offers premium quality global sports including products such
as the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A football, WTA Tour women’s tennis and
the Davis Cup, the US PGA Golf Tour, MotoGP and NASCAR to Indian sports lovers.

NEO Cricket, the world’s first cricket-centric TV channel, is currently broadcast
in over 25 countries across Asia. Its range of
cricket programming includes all Indian international cricket matches played in
India
including one day internationals, T20 and test matches. The channels are available
throughout the Middle East on Arab Digital Distribution.
NEO already had four years’ experience of broadcasting live cricket shows that were
very complex, as the insertion of commercials, sponsored graphics and sponsored
DVE effects (squeeze-backs and so on) often happened at the last second.

The technical
team was used to its traditional setup of standalone systems, including a master
control switcher (switching of sources and handling DVE), a graphics play-out system
and a programme and commercial play-out server. However, when it came to launching
a third channel, they needed additional capacity that would work with the existing
system, while still retaining its flexibility. After a thorough analysis of the
market they found OASYS to be the ideal choice.

H. Rajeskharan, executive vice president, technology & operations,
NEO Sports Broadcast, says: “The OASYS solution gives NEO all the flexibility and
features that we had in our existing set-up of standalone equipment, but within
a single PC. And to our surprise, it was phenomenally cost-effective, even with
the addition of an identical redundancy system, which we requested for peace of
mind. I am happy to say that so far we have not needed it.”

The main benefit of the OASYS solution for NEO is having all
the software functions on a single PC. “Installation and integration become much
easier, and there is no need for third party systems to be integrated as everything
is in a single box,” says Rajeskharan. “This gives us the advantage of having minimal
crew requirements, even for handling live events.”

Another important component of the deal was the support provided
by both OASYS and Cineom, the local systems integrator that handled the sale and
installation. “Reliable, timely support is a crucial element of any solution, and
Cineom and OASYS are very good when it comes to supporting their clients.”

NEO has two identical OASYS systems – the main system and a redundant
system - that are synchronised to play simultaneously. Even if the main system has
issues the team can still work on the redundant system instantly; a 2x1 switch at
the output stage takes care of the switching automatically.

The software supports HD and SD, and the I/O card supplied with
the system is also HD compatible, when NEO is ready to activate it. OASYS supports
two inputs on each system: one is used as an ingest port and the other is used as
a live input from the router for playout.

All content ingested is stored in external storage, then it is
copied to the main and redundant systems automatically. While OASYS supports up
to 8TB internal storage, NEO has taken only 2TB per system based on its current
requirement. However, it also has 8TB of external storage onto which multiple edit
clients can edit and place the final on-air clip on to a watch folder. OASYS intelligently
moves or copies the content immediately to both the main and redundant system.

In each system there are four simultaneous outputs available
which are configurable as required. NEO configured them to be a program, preview
and ingest monitoring source, keeping one output free for the moment for future
HD programme output. When NEO decides to broadcast in HD, the team can configure
HD on one output and SD on another, enabling simulcasting from the same system.

Graphics and DVE are also part of the same system and this gives
NEO the advantage of running lower third graphics, replay bugs, ticker, DVE (squeeze-backs),
channel branding and the channel logo too. All these can be taken on-air simultaneously
as OASYS supports multiple layers as part of their basic system. The redundant system
can be used for testing and preview purpose before taking on-air. Once NEO is happy
with the look of the graphics, they can be taken on-air on the main system. OASYS developed a simple drag and drop from windows
folders to enable the operators to locate and add clips and graphics quickly and
efficiently.

The system imports schedules to become part of the playlist.
NEO is currently using *.mov wrapper and DV25 as the compression format but when
it moves to HD play-out it will consider a better and high data rate. The system
supports RS232 which then can be converted to RS422 for VTR control. NEO can have
multiple serial cards to handle multiple VTRs. GPI can be used for controlling third
party equipment like routers etc.

Mark Errington, CEO, OASYS, says, “This is a great example of
the flexibility of our software and how it can be used in conjunction with an existing
infrastructure to extend or enhance workflows. Whether adding on channels or looking
at disaster recovery, OASYS provides a seamless, simple solution.”

NEO is currently testing the solution thoroughly ready for a
Q4 2010 launch. Rajeskharan is happy with NEO’s experiences so far, and concludes:
“You get everything in a single box, so we can truly call OASYS a solution rather
than a system.”

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