Stan Sport

High-volume live OTT sports streaming in HD and UHD

is a leading Australian multiplatform media network, engaging audiences across the full traditional and digital entertainment spectrum, with premium content delivered to millions of Australians every day through the Nine television, broadcast video on demand, digital, publishing  and radio assets.

In addition to its five free-to-air channels, Nine’s digital multi-channels include 9Gem, 9Life, 9Rush and 9Go!, built on key content genres delivering premium programming across lifestyle, reality, entertainment and sports. Nine is also the home of some of the biggest television events each year, from the Summer of Tennis culminating in the Australian Open to State of Origin and the NRL series.

Rugby player holding ball

From its recently built flagship HQ and production studios in North Sydney, the Nine Entertainment Company also provides production services to Stan Sport — a leading Australian OTT sports streaming service, which offers subscriber access to an extensive range of sports such as Rugby, the UEFA Champions League, Formula E, INDYCAR, World Endurance Championship, Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

A key part of part of Nine’s highly successful digital growth strategy, Stan is now the third-largest streaming service behind Disney+ and Netflix, leveraging Nine’s success and pedigree in bringing together major, premium sports rights and fixtures to Australian audiences under the “Nine Wide World of Sports” banner.

Home of Rugby, Grand Slam Tennis, UEFA Champions League & more

Home of Rugby, Grand Slam Tennis, UEFA Champions League & more

Third-largest streaming service behind Disney+ & Netflix

Third-largest streaming service behind Disney+ & Netflix

Live and on-demand streaming in HD and 4K UHD

Live and on-demand streaming in HD and 4K UHD

The Challenge

In 2021, Nine launched Stan Sport — a live and on-demand premium sport package offered as a bundle to Stan’s streaming customers — with the initial content stemming from Nine’s partnership with Rugby Australia.

As Nine’s sports rights portfolio continued to expand, it became increasingly challenging to handle the high volume of diverse live sports feeds. Stan’s exclusive coverage of the UEFA Championships, in just one example, offers viewers the choice of up to any one of 32 concurrent live match broadcasts.

David Bowers, Nine CTO Broadcast Operations, says, “Through 2021, it became apparent that we needed a media processing platform with multiple personalities, enabling simultaneous conversions of 4K sources for Stan Sport, with our immediate requirements at that time being converting 12G-SDI to Quad-link output, as well Quad-link to 12G-SDI output.”

Bowers began to survey the market for fast, reliable and highly flexible network processing solutions that would enable any type and format of live, in-bound international video content to be transcoded and turned around for immediate use into the production studios for live telecasts by Nine and Stan Sport.

The Solution

One of the solutions Bowers evaluated was the Imagine Selenio Network Processor (SNP), which has gained rapid marketplace acceptance across both IP and SDI-based systems, with an estimated 70,000 video channels of SNP currently operational around the world.

Variously described by users as a “1RU Powerhouse” and the “Swiss Army Knife” for live production, the powerful, compact appliance provides all the processing power needed for multiple signal streams, but the applications are pure software. The unique SNP design enables it to be easily reconfigured with different personalities and upgraded in the field with new functionality.

Some core SNP capabilities include the ability to:

  • manage all forms of traditional processing and synchronization
  • deliver single-stream, uncompressed UHD
  • perform HDR conversion and JPEG XS compression
  • provide an ultra low-latency SDI/IP production multiviewer
  • bridge SDI equipment to an ST 2110 network

“When we initially designed the SNP, we set out to push the boundaries of traditional signal processing,” says John Mailhot, CTO Networking and Infrastructure at Imagine Communications. “We built the hardware to be ready for anything, and we continue to release software that unleashes that power in more flexible ways.”

Recent additions to the SNP feature set include DSP-enabled advanced audio processing algorithms, new audio routing features and coordinated switching of 8K signals to support multi-stream 8K workflows.  Imagine also continues to enhance the SNP’s JPEG XS connectivity offerings, enabling high-quality connectivity between facilities and around the world, and helping customers drive better value and performance from their fibre, satellite and IP contribution and distribution networks.

“After extensive testing and evaluation of other available industry platforms, we concluded that Imagine’s SNP platform was the most cost-effective and flexible solution.”
portrait of Davie Bowers from NINE
David Bowers
CTO Broadcast Operations, Nine

The Result

Imagine not only proved its ability to deliver innovative, problem-solving technology, but also proved to be a reliable partner in challenging times.

Bowers says, “Despite the restrictions of COVID lockdowns in place at that time, Imagine came to our immediate assistance by providing us with a loan SNP unit and some expert remote support to deploy the SNP unit in our broadcast production centre.

“The local Imagine staff helped us configure the SNP to our very exacting technical broadcast standards and assisted us during a series of tests to ensure that the SNP could meet the demands of Nine and Stan in our production studio for seamless live handling and transcoding of multiple SDI, HDI and 4K signals.”

fans at home watching a sports broadcast on television

After extensive testing and evaluation of other available industry platforms, Bower says, “We concluded that Imagine’s SNP platform was the most cost-effective and flexible solution, and it was deployed to live production with minimum business disruption by our respective technical teams within weeks of the testing.

“Imagine’s SNP made it possible to easily meet the operational demands of handling the high volumes of multiple, live, technically diverse sports feeds required to support the Nine and Stan Sport operations.”

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