Japanese broadcaster WOWOW, which operates both satellite channels as well as streaming services, deployed LiveU technology to provide innovative, player-following coverage of the US Women’s Open Golf in December 2020 using multi-camera remote production. The tournament, organised by the United States Golf Association, is the oldest of the LPGA Tour’s five major championships.
WOWOW decided to significantly expand and evolve its coverage this year to increase viewer engagement, taking advantage of remote production capabilities and to help with adherence to pandemic restrictions. The broadcaster deployed LiveU’s IP contribution solution with multiple units via its local US production crew with only two people travelling from Japan – specifically, a producer and an audio engineer. All staff were regularly checked for COVID-19 and all social distancing requirements were adhered to.
WOWOW used four units – two for each player – to follow Japanese players Nasa Hataoka and Hinako Shibuno (who came fourth) around this course. This live coverage provided dedicated player feeds as they made their way round the Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas. Those feeds were streamed on WOWOW Members on Demand on each player’s dedicated channel. They also had an on-site reporter and another LiveU unit at the compound to send the footage.
Yuko Toda, producer, sports department, WOWOW, said: “By having dedicated channels to show all holes played by specific players, we hope viewers enjoyed watching golf in a new style. LiveU was very stable during the event and we used a very minimal delay that enabled us to use on-camera live talk between the commentator in Tokyo and the on-site reporter.”
The four feeds were sent directly from the course to WOWOW’s Tokyo Broadcast Centre, where commentary and graphics were added. Content from this coverage, along with footage from the world feed, was then also used on WOWOW Prime and WOWOW Live, the broadcaster’s satellite-based channels.
Toda added: “Ten years ago, the way we were doing this was shooting on-site, bringing the recorded hard disk to an SNG truck to transmit the footage to Japan. After receiving the footage, we then edited the highlights and finally broadcast it. Compared to those days, sending the live feeds from the venue to studio in Japan with a unit is amazingly easy and fantastic and it really expands what’s possible and does so cost-effectively. LiveU is making this achievable for us and we’re looking forward to trying more new things and rising to future challenges.”
LiveU meets all the operational requirements for a successful broadcast in a demanding situation, such as golf, with uncompromised reliability and quality of service.
Yaal Eshel, General Manager, LiveU Asia, said: “WOWOW has fully utilised our technology not only to replace expensive satellite and fiber for premium sports coverage, but also to create true innovation in the type of coverage they produce, taking advantage of remote multi-camera production techniques. This increases fan engagement by providing very specific live coverage as well as following the overall tournament. We’re intrigued to see what WOWOW does next!”