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BT Sport On The Ball With PROVYS

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The fascinating story of BT Sport began in June, 2012. British Telecom PLC took the UK television industry by surprise by bidding for, and acquiring 38 Premier League matches. On 1st August, 2013, just 14 months later, BT Sport was launched at its brand new, purpose-built television facility located at the International Broadcast Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the re-generated East End of London.

Five years on, BT Sport is an established multi-channel sports broadcaster available on the BT TV, Sky and Virgin Media platforms. Alongside its English Premier League packages, its Sport rights portfolio now includes the FA Cup, UEFA Champions League and Europa League, the SPFL from Scotland, Serie A and Bundesliga, as well as Moto GP, Aviva Premiership, European Rugby and WTA Women's Tennis.

The speed of launch at a new build facility meant that the majority of the design and engineering focus had to be on hardware and integration, rather than broadcast management systems and software, so it took some time before the team at BT Sport could draw breath and start looking for a robust software package that would streamline all the channel management processes.

"After running BT Sport on a collection of off-the-shelf applications, we started to look around for a package that would manage everything from budgeting, ingest and compliance, to our Master Control Room (MCR)," said Fergus Garber, BT Sport's Director of Production. "There were several packages out there, but we were looking as much for a company that would help us get it right, as the software itself. Provys ticked all the boxes. During the competitive tender, they presented well, giving us the confidence that they clearly understood our needs. This combined with some fantastic professionally run reference site visits, left us in no doubt that Provys were right for us," added Fergus.

"BT Sport told us that what they really needed was a project team to help them through the end-to-end process; a team that would work in partnership and not just as a software supplier. BT Sport were particularly attracted by our flexibility, willingness and ability to easily adapt our standard solution to their specific requirements," said Martin Pargac, Consultant Engineer at Provys, and continues: "and even though the integration with their new programme scheduling software was very complex, we were able to meet all the challenges to the full satisfaction of the BT Sport production and operations teams. In addition, we were pleased to establish a very friendly working relationship with the management of BT Sport, proving that we are indeed, a team of nice people, as we say, with a human face."

Features that made Provys stand out from the competition were: graphical allocation of time for different resources (facilities, equipment, personnel, etc.), real time cost reports, accurate budget forecasting, resource requests and allocation, sophisticated task management, control of promo campaigns, metadata preparation for post-production, auto-generation of call sheets for Outside Broadcast and studio productions.

Provys never loses sight of their most important objective – to efficiently manage the workflows within any broadcast organisation. "To this end, we continuously improve, develop and adapt our standard solution to meet the specific demands of our clients for improved workflow efficiency. At BT Sport, these requirements are, for example: special technical tasks for Preditors (BT Sport's Producers / Editors), planning and budgeting tasks and promos for the On Air team, for the workflow control of ingest and outgest, including contribution and distribution of live and file based traffic, etc.," adds Martin Pargac. These technical considerations do not preclude the importance of financial control, and a further crucial feature of the solution is the ability to hold, monitor and report continuously on the utilisation of BT Sport's annual budget.

Fergus Garber summed up: "What we wanted was a company that could deliver a tool that did everything. No pressure! We didn't expect to get it, but what Provys gave us, surprised us all in a really good way. Great job!"

This article also features in the March edition of Broadcast Film & Video.
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