How Amedia live-streamed 830 Norway Cup matches from a shipping container

By Tord Selmer-Nedrelid

Amedia

Oslo, Norway

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Streaming a big football tournament is daunting in the best of circumstances. When it is the world’s largest and you plan to produce 830 matches in six days with no background in broadcasting, some would say it’s foolhardy. With solid know-how, a strong technical base, and meticulous planning, Amedia chose to embrace that challenge in 2019, streaming that whopping number of matches live from 15 pitches during six sweltering summer days.  

Norway Cup is the world’s largest youth football tournament. More than 2,000 teams swarm to Oslo each summer, where boys and girls from all over the world meet for a week of football and fun. Many of the teams and players come from communities Amedia’s newspapers cover.  

From a journalistic standpoint, it’s a tournament that engages large portions of our local audiences: parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, uncles, and aunts. It is a natural and important event to cover. 

Live production of the continuous broadcast ran for 13 hours a day.
Live production of the continuous broadcast ran for 13 hours a day.

It’s also a great opportunity to provide value for our subscribers, since many cannot be there to watch their children or grandchildren play. In a country where it’s faster to drive from Oslo to Milan than from Oslo to the northern town of Kirkenes, streaming connects people.

And, let’s face it. In 2019, live video is the obvious way to cover sports events. 

Amedia’s award-winning Direktesport vertical is an upstart in Norwegian sports coverage. It pools live sports productions from Amedia’s 75 newspapers. We provide a huge number of live-streamed sports events in a scalable and cost-efficient manner, with a total of 5,000 live events in 2019. 

We’ve covered Norway Cup before, starting in 2017 with 150 matches. We repeated the success in 2018. And when we launched the new Direktesport.no vertical in early 2019, we decided to set the bar at a massive 800 matches during the tournament — all with commentary, graphics, scoreboards, replays, and edited highlight packages.

Putting a team in place

The work engaged large chunks of Amedia in mid-summer, including developers, journalists, and cameramen from our local newspapers. It encompassed everything from APIs and UX to camera logistics and personnel management. 

Norway Cup was played from Sunday, July 28, to Saturday, August 3. For Amedia’s team, two shipping containers were turned into a makeshift control room, video desk, tech support, and project office. The rig and scaffolding camera towers at each of the 15 pitches we covered were erected the week before the tournament, with power cables and Internet lines put into place and with 4G bonding encoders from AviWest as the backbone of our contribution workflow. 

A standard production team consists of two persons: A photographer (who is also in charge of the encoder) and a commentator (who is also running LiveReplayer production software on a MacBook).

Project manager Christian Haksø meticulously scheduled coverage of the event.
Project manager Christian Haksø meticulously scheduled coverage of the event.

With meticulous planning from project manager Christian Haksø — and great work by our video desk, development team, and video platform provider Flowplayer — we experienced no major technical issues. Sure, 30+ degree temperatures during the first couple of days put a strain on the production laptops, but cheap, low-tech electrical fans kept them humming. 

After initial rounds, we had no advance knowledge of which teams would meet. Our custom API setup kept us on top of things — pulling fresh schedules from Norway Cup’s scheduling system, updating both the published live videos in our CMS and stream details in our OVP continuously — for more than 100 separate streams each day. 

Amedia created a base camp at Norway Cup to be able to cover the games for six consecutive days.
Amedia created a base camp at Norway Cup to be able to cover the games for six consecutive days.

Amedia has built its live sports operation on the fact that it is not a broadcaster. We have no legacy infrastructure or staff of broadast engineers. What we have is elbow grease, a willingness to experiment, and a strong bond to local sports clubs and fans. Where a traditional broadcaster needed an OB-bus to produce 60 matches from one pitch, we streamed  830 matches from 15 pitches, with laptops in an old shipping container. 

We put our video workflow and infrastructure to the test and proved that we could produce, publish, and coordinate a huge number of live-streamed matches simultaneously at low cost. On August 1 alone, 59,362 subscribers watched more than 1.46 million minutes of video. That equals 2.78 years of watching, all in a 24-hour period.

The results: Flawless execution, 60,000 subscribers watching 100 matches daily, technical hurdles smoothly bypassed, and a solid boost in engagement, subscription sales, production know-how — and team morale.

Banner image courtesy bottomlayercz0 from Pixabay.

About Tord Selmer-Nedrelid

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