Colin McKevitt at Badger & Combes explains how affordable remote IP production workflows are democratising digital sports broadcasting

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In March, Lancashire Cricket embarked on a pre-season tour across Dubai and Bengaluru, India.

Seeking to connect with fans worldwide, Lancashire Cricket teamed up with its digital creative partners, Badger & Combes, to live stream the tour on LancsTV, utilising remote production techniques.

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I was asked to look at the potential of sending out a full media team to tour with the men’s and women’s sides this year.

This would have normally been a team of eight, including kit and support, flights, hotels and logistics. The list goes on, and so did the costs.

We had to come up with a solution that allowed us to maintain the quality and consistency we’ve been working on over the past few years with LancsTV but at a reduced cost.

Fortunately, we have been working on remote productions for some time now nationally in the UK and looked to scale this across borders to see if we could utilise this between Bangalore and Manchester.

The technology is tried and tested whenever we do the women’s cricket matches from Sale and we felt confident in pushing it further by using bonded sim cards from India on Jio, Airtel and Vodaphone networks.

We setup a remote engineering/exec producer position in the days before heading out of Manchester airport to ensure that we were able to get as much flexibility production-wise, without having to split kit across multiple baggage.

With the peli-case full and carnet in hand, I arrived in the early hours of the morning at Bengaluru airport and got my head down for a few hours before heading to the ground and liaising between the club and getting the internet provisioning underway. 

Normally a nervousness would be at the forefront of any organisation at this point, with no internet, however we had our sim card backups working perfectly so the commercial confidence to do these was reinforced when the original timescale for this wired internet delivery slipped by a day.

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We opted to call on the services of a camera production team from India who knew cricket and had taken time to watch our previous broadcasts.

Back at Emirates Old Trafford, the rest of the Badger & Combes team tested audio feeds and replay. Our scorer was sat in the gallery alongside the EVS operators and director.

Day one went perfectly as both teams played in a double header and we managed to get plenty of interviews fed back to the gallery in Manchester for use during the day’s play.

We then started to feed in the commentary teams’ audio. Day two again went well and this saw a full days play from the women’s team with plenty of live interviews during play.

Then the next three days were a men’s shortened county style game where we mic’ed up players in the outfield who were able to talk directly to the commentary team back in Manchester.

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This enabled us to provide insight to the inner working of a top level county side as we were able to join in the fielding discussions between captain and bowler.

We also were able to talk directly to the players after each wicket that fell for a great perspective on the analysis of what had just happened.

The team back in Manchester were also clipping out content for social channels as well as creating some interesting behind-the-senes footage.

Although 2am in a rainy UK and 7.30am in a sweltering Bengaluru might be over 5,000 miles apart, it felt like we were all sat right next to each other while communicating through the talkback and video return functionality of the Haivison kit.

There is a real appetite for authentic live content that engages organically, however it takes robustness in both the production and technical workflows for brands to trust the value.

We had a great time delivering the project and can’t wait to do it all again. Even dealing with a dog chewing thorough the main internet cable on day two, and a swarm of killer bees that had the Lancs players face down in the ground, no one noticed the disruption.