SRT and Haivision: Powering the First Ever Virtual NFL Draft
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, live sports have been driven to a complete standstill, leaving sports fans stuck at home and hungry for new live content. It’s against this backdrop that the NFL recently decided that the show must go on when it came to the annual NFL Draft, a hugely popular three-day event that garners primetime tv coverage, attracting millions of viewers worldwide. With less than a month to prepare, the league took the decision to switch from the original event scheduled to be held in Las Vegas to a fully virtual version of the NFL Draft in order to comply with social distancing measures while still giving fans a one–of–a-kind experience to remember.
The draft took place from April 23rd to 25th and proved to be a massive success, giving fans a unique and authentic behind the scenes look at the lives, families, and homes of those involved. Arguably the most memorable NFL Draft ever, this year’s event smashed previous ratings records, reaching a combined audience of over 55 million viewers.
A Draft Like No Other
When deciding how to move forward in such unique circumstances, the NFL had to work quickly to rethink the event and the broadcast workflows behind it. Faced with a whole host of technical, logistical, connectivity, and security concerns, the NFL chose fail-safe, robust technology that they could rely on to deliver high quality video suitable for on-air broadcast.
The NFL Draft team assembled over 100 home-broadcast kits containing mics, lighting gear, and a smartphone equipped with SRT streaming capabilities to each participant. At the player locations, these kits provided always-on feeds that the NFL could rely on to ensure they never missed an important moment to include in their telecast. They also leveraged conferencing solutions (Microsoft Teams) for communications between league and team officials.
SRT and Haivision: The Secret to Success
The unique and powerful combination of the Secure Reliable Transport protocol (SRT) and Haivision video streaming technology was an essential part of the live remove broadcast puzzle. Together, they helped connect live camera feeds from over 130 locations, including the homes of the top 58 draft prospects, 32 teams (including their head coaches and general managers), and, from his makeshift basement studio, the NFL commissioner himself, Roger Goodell.