PCCW Global teams with Ideal Systems for live 360 VR broadcast

James Pearce
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HKT-owned PCCW Global worked with Ideal Systems and Now TV to deliver broadcast of 2017 Hong Kong Sevens rugby in a world first

PCCW Global has partnered with Ideal Systems and Now TV to deliver the world’s first live 360 virtual reality broadcast of the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens.

The broadcast used 3D multi-camera coverage, hosted by Now TV, to offer an immersive VR viewing experience of the rugby event, which was held from 7-9 April.

The collaboration saw Ideal Systems deliver the content acquisition using Nokia OZO 360-degree cameras, which sat pitch side during the game. This content was delivered using fibre infrastructure  provided by HKT, PCCW Global’s parent company, to Nokia servers, where the video was stitched together to create a 3D stream.

The 360-degree audio and video streams where then sent over PCCW Global’s media deliver network, with six streams routed from the stadium for distribution to Now TV customers.

 Mike van den Bergh, chief marketing officer of PCCW Global, said: “This world’s first delivery of a complete source-to-screen solution for immersive 360 VR viewing was one of the most exciting projects our team has been involved in. While it truly showcased our innovation and media delivery capabilities, it also tested our abilities fully, leveraging as it did both our extensive experience in delivering mega sports events, and our ability to successfully put such a complex solution together in a very short space of time.”

PCCW Global said the challenges of live VR streaming include the complexity of dealing with data rates much higher tha those usually found on the delivery networks. These came close to 6Gbps of uncompressed video from each OZO Live Server during the broadcast.

Ideal Systems provided a live production team who took care of on-site set up and live production.

Jim Butler, founder and chief executive officer of Ideal Systems Group, said: “We are very excited to be on the bleeding edge of this next wave of broadcast innovation and are honoured to have been chosen as the 360 VR partner by PCCW Global.

“We had no play book to go by and are writing the rules as we go. It is a bit daunting to be first, especially with an event of this magnitude and duration. We are delighted that it has been such a successful project for us and PCCW Global and ultimately Now TV’s viewers.”

PCCW Global is positioning itself as a global leader in content and delivery, and this is the latest highlight for the HKT-owned carrier.

In 2015, it entered a video delivery partnership with content delivery solutions provider Solbox. Since then, it has provided connectivity for a major esports event, as part of a partnership with Hong Kong Esports Limited.