Thaler Media Streams Live from Hospitality Tents at The Honda Classic 2018 Golf Tournament
Midtown Video, NewTek and LiveU go above and beyond to make this unique venture a reality
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLA.
While sports networks pay handsomely for the exclusive rights to broadcast major golf championships, such as The Honda Classic 2018 tournament, Thaler Media President Lowell Thaler recognized that there was another really interesting “show within the show” that had heretofore gone unnoticed—the hospitality tent parties taking place near the greens at the PGA National Golf Club.
Sponsored by major brands, like Gossling’s Rum and Tito’s Vodka, these hospitality tents provide beverages, refreshments, and entertainment to the event’s special VIP guests, as well as a great vantage point to watch golfers as they take their shots nearby and on big-screen displays.
With his professional background producing live video for major golf associations, such as The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), Thaler envisioned deploying roving camera crews and talent to cover the most colorful moments taking place at these party tents. By live streaming the video to a platform like Facebook Live, he would be able to hold the line on production and distribution costs while reaching a targeted, global niche audience.
When Thaler approached event organizers about live streaming from their hospitality tents during that Honda Classic 2018 weekend (February 22-25, 2018), The Honda Classic Live project was immediately greenlit. Ken Kennerly, the Executive Director, saw the value proposition that this social media exposure posed for their tent sponsors and fans watching at home. It also had potential to entice new tent sponsors for the next event.
At that moment, The Honda Classic 2018 was only two and a half weeks away and Thaler didn’t have all the production equipment he needed to make it happen with uncompromised quality. So, he quickly placed a call to Midtown Video—the Miami-based video equipment dealer and systems integrator that had sold him two Sony F55 CineAlta systems—seeking equipment solutions and support.
Upon learning of Thaler’s intriguing production plan, Midtown Video’s VP Operations, Fernando Iglesias sprang into action, recommending the optimal gear for this unique streaming application—including the NewTek TriCaster TC1 16 input, 4k/60fps capable IP-based production switcher, and LiveU’s LU600 portable transmission system and companion LU2000 bonded video transceiver. Midtown Video also rushed his order to ensure prompt arrival.
As equipment began arriving from LiveU and NewTek, Iglesias and his team unpacked the boxes, set up the devices, and tested the end-to-end workflow. They then packed it up into two fly packs, and personally drove it from their Miami facility up to a hotel ballroom, in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, that Thaler had arranged to use as the master control room for this Facebook Live event.
During The Honda Classic Live 3-day shoot, the LiveU LU-600 transmission backpacks enabled Thaler’s camera operators to back-haul their HD signals from the Sony F55 cameras covering the hospitality tents—over bonded cellular service—to the LiveU-2000 transceiver in the nearby ballroom.
From there, the signals traveled over an NDI LAN into the IP-centric NewTek TriCaster TC1, which was used to 1) switch the live show, 2) iso-record it for later post production, and 3) deliver the high-quality live stream to Facebook Live. Representatives from Midtown Video, as well as NewTek and LiveU, all provided valuable on-site tech support to Thaler and his production crew during the entire production weekend.
Despite the short lead-time and very little pre-show publicity, The Honda Classic Live
coverage still managed to garner 6K views per day, and 18K views over the three days. Upon seeing the success of The Honda Classic Live streaming, The PGA of America now voiced interest in doing similar productions in their own golf tournaments’ hospitality tents.
When Thaler set up a technology demo to wow PGA of America executives as to what the TC1 and LiveU workflow could do to get the business, Iglesias and others again drove up from Midtown Video to Palm Beach Gardens to provide further technical support and ensure that the demo went off without a hitch.
LiveU and NewTek representatives also flew in again to make sure the PGA of America demo successfully showed off their integrated solutions’ capabilities. According to Thaler, all three companies worked tirelessly in tandem to help him achieve his production goals and potentially launch a whole new event streaming business.
“Without the LiveU and TC1 systems, I could not have pulled off this high-quality production as cost-effectively,” Thaler said. “The workflow is a fraction of the cost of renting an HD production truck. With the LiveU LU600 backpacks and NewTek NDI networking, I can send camera crews wherever I need them—even thousands of miles away—and direct the shoot remotely from my studio control room in Florida.” The savings on travel, labor and other production costs make it very appealing to cover these smaller, niche events that would otherwise not be cost-effective to cover.”
“The LiveU Wireless At-Home Production solution gives customers the ability to roam around, go behind the scenes, and get reaction shots from people at outdoor venues, and then send it back to a central location for production and distribution to online viewers,” said George Klippel, LiveU Director of Channel Sales. “It wouldn’t have been possible to do with a large camera connected to a fixed cable position and securing a production truck would have been cost-prohibitive.”
“Customers can affordably and efficiently create much more engaging, exciting and memorable content for viewers using this mobile workflow. We’re excited to see what Thaler Media produces next with the help of our technology,” Klippel added.
“It was remarkable how quickly the production workflow all came together. Whatever I needed, the folks at Midtown Video said, ‘No problem,’ and took care of everything. After they sold me the equipment, they could’ve said, ‘Well, here ya go. See ya,’” Thaler said. “But, instead, they took a genuine interest in helping me succeed and making my interesting, unconventional show idea a reality.”
“What Midtown Video [and Thaler Media] provided to the good folks at The Honda Classic 2018 was nothing less than a snapshot of the future of video production,” said Scott Carroll, director of PR for NewTek. “What they achieved—high-quality programming at a fraction of the cost of traditional baseband methods—would have been unimaginable a few short years ago. LiveU to TriCaster, with NDI as the backbone, is an extraordinarily powerful combination that they ably demonstrated.”