The TCS New York City Marathon is one of the most prestigious races in the world, attracting thousands of runners to participate and millions of viewers worldwide to tune-in to watch. This year’s edition of the TCS New York City Marathon saw 51,402 of the 51,933 starters crossing the finishing, leading to a 98.9 percent finish rate, and making it the third highest in the race’s history and the largest in the world this year.
CP Communications provides high-quality and cost-effective live event production solutions to a wide range of clients, including major broadcasters, sports leagues and teams, and event and production companies. Its solutions include access to experienced professionals, state of the art equipment, and innovative technologies and techniques for wireless audio & video content acquisition, transport, and delivery.
“The biggest plus point for us this year was that the Haivision Pro360s and 460s all supported 5G right out of the box and the way that they effortlessly handled the lack of reliable cellular coverage was a massive step up from other vendors. And because they have all the features on the cellular side, they were the more attractive and smarter choice. When we deploy Haivision products, they work right out of the gate and if there are any issues, we get quick and efficient support from the Haivision team.”
Lead IP and Bonded Cellular Specialist, CP Communications
Photo Credit: David Henkewick, 2023
CP Communications is a broadcast pioneer in leveraging bonded cellular technology for sporting events, with an impressive list of similar races under its belt. These successes have given the CP team solid experience on how to deploy a bonded cellular workflow at a larger scale, leading it to move its entire production to an IP-based scheme for coverage of last year’s race.
Three major challenges that CP has had to contend with in prior New York Marathon races include the lack of reliable cellular coverage across the 26.2 miles of New York that the race covers, reducing overall latency, and the need to deliver reliable, high-quality video to production teams as fast as possible so they can absorb, understand, and utilize the content how they need it.
As Frank Rafka, Technical Manager, CP Communications explains: “We try to keep all the remote production sites with the vehicles at 1.8 to 2 seconds of latency because it makes it easy for the production team to produce the show exactly how they want and that’s key. This is one of the biggest challenges we faced originally when moving forward with IP encoding during live events.”
In addition to the live broadcast feeds for rightsholders, another important change made this year was the increased importance of the TCS phone app. Last year, the app featured a straight stream from the cars following the leaders of the races but for this year’s race, there was a demand for additional streams and better overall production including graphics and voiceovers, which presented a new challenge for CP.
To provide coverage for the app, CP Communications powered their IP workflows with Haivision Pro460 and Haivision Pro360 mobile video transmitters. Three Pro460s were mounted in smart cars to follow the leaders of the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair races, while three Pro360s were attached to electric bikes to contribute video feeds to the live broadcast of the marathon. To decode and distribute these feeds to multiple destinations including 11 feeds to the Grabyo collaborative cloud production platform, CP deployed seven Haivision StreamHub receivers, with one in the cloud, to serve as the main quality control center for all the feeds going to the TCS mobile app.
“We were brought in to be the intermediary for distribution to the mobile app to make sure it all worked as it should and so that there was only one place to call for information on the feeds, said Frank. “In order to do this, we deployed a Haivision StreamHub cloud instance to act as our middle broker and quality control point for all the feeds going to TCS, which was new this year.”
At the starting line, CP also leveraged three Haivision Makito X4 video encoders and video decoders in a six-slot rack mount to create 12 paths, with return feeds, from the starting point back to the production truck. The physical Haivision StreamHub receivers located in the truck were being leveraged to bring in all the feeds from the Makito X4s and send them to various end users including for broadcasting live on-air and to the app.
Photo Credit: David Henkewick, 2023
CP Communications were able to deliver all the video feeds broadcasters required with very few issues, noting that this year’s production of the TCS New York City Marathon was a massive success with broadcasters remarking how happy they were with the quality of the video.
The combination of Haivision Pro mobile video transmitters and StreamHub enabled CP to deliver multiple feeds to several different destinations, including to the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority using the SRT video protocol for security purposes. Haivision also provided on-site support to help CP deal with any possible technical issues.
“The biggest plus point for us this year was that the Haivision Pro360s and 460s all supported 5G right out of the box and the way that they effortlessly handled the lack of reliable cellular coverage was a massive step up from other vendors,” said Allen Harris, lead IP and bonded cellular specialist for CP Communications. “And because they have all the features on the cellular side, they were the more attractive and smarter choice. When we deploy Haivision products, they work right out of the gate and if there are any issues, we get quick and efficient support from the Haivision team.”
According to Frank, another reason for the big success of this year’s event was the interoperability of the Haivision ecosystem, allowing for a versatile solution that enabled him to send high-quality feeds to the people that need them without complications.
“We love how Haivision’s products all work together seamlessly, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen or experienced before. This cross-product interoperability is vital for us to apply our resources correctly and the flexibility that Haivision provides is simply second to none.”