The Open golf championship pulls in huge TV audiences around the world, but event organisers the R&A (Royal & Ancient) are now looking to attract an even greater viewership through video streaming. Highlights of this year’s tournament, won by South African Ernie Els at Royal Lytham & St Anne’s golf course in Lancashire last weekend (19-22 July), were available to users of a wide variety of mobile and handheld equipment.
VoD (video-on-demand) material was available from the R&A Website and to iPhone and Android devices as well as through a new iPad application, which also offered special magazine features and an interactive map of the course in addition to the highlight packages. This coverage was based on streaming systems developed by online-video–technology company Ooyala, which also developed the software for the iPad app.
This allowed iPad users to get an aerial view of each hole on the Royal Lytham course through fly-over videos and also to watch shots from past tournaments stored in the R&A archives. Ooyala technology was also behind video played from the R&A Website (Theopen.com), which was built and is hosted and managed by Endava.
Ooyala had 14 technical staff on site during the Open, alongside two representatives from Endava. Alan Wylie, Ooyala’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa account director, explains that video was supplied to them as “topped and tailed” packages ready for encoding and distribution. “We use adaptive reduced bitrates based on people’s connections to distribute the video,” he says. “The Android devices and Flash Players have some intelligence to work with this. From our perspective, it was a live feed, and there was no further editing involved.”
Wylie adds that a GPS system was used to allow the new app to track players as they went round the course: “This is a new direction in terms of the making the app a priority.”
Says Kevin Bain, digital media manager of The R&A, “We’re thrilled to be working with Ooyala to bring interactive, multiscreen streaming video from The Open Championship to a global audience of golf fans. The way people view premium content is changing, and Ooyala keeps us up to par with how people watch sports today.”