CASE STUDY: Montreal Canadiens

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The Montreal Canadiens hold a record 24 Stanley Cup championships – this storied franchise knows how to capture the hearts and eyes of their loyal fanbase. The team wanted to extend that engagement into the concourse at Montreal’s Bell Centre arena, to ensure that the 21,000 plus fans in attendance stayed engaged with HD content even when they were away from their seats.

The Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders became the key to this digital signage initiative, while also playing a behind-the-scenes role to distribute replays to key decision makers on whether or not to challenge a goal that can crucially impact the outcome of a game.

Home to the Canadiens, the Bell Centre also hosts a full line-up of international music, theatre, sports, and business events each year. The venue sought a “digital facelift” to ensure optimal ambiance for eventgoers. Unwieldy light-box advertising, was replaced with streamlined dual-monitor digital displays to best showcase event and event-related content.

Maevex delivers content via a Seneca HD media player housing a quadoutput graphics card on a multicast Avaya network. A Maevex encoder is connected to each output, with each appliance delivering content to sets of five Maevex decoders for a total of 100+ Maevex-powered displays.

In researching his options for content distribution, Pierre-Eric Belzile, Vice President, Information and Communication Technology for the Canadiens determined that Maevex was the only AV-over-IP platform capable of synchronizing digital signage distributed via one encoder to multiple displays. With other hardware, synchronization was off by as many as several seconds, causing confusion for viewers who could see up to five sets of monitors across the concourse.

Behind the scenes, Maevex plays an equally important role. The NHL’s Coach’s Challenge allows a team to request a video review of the last play for specific scenarios if they have a time-out available. Crucially, it must be effectively initiated before the resumption of play, which usually only allows a 40-second window. With limited time to decide whether or not to risk a timeout, the Canadiens needed a way to stream definitive footage to key decision-makers, including the assistant coaches of both teams — all stationed in different locations around the arena and requiring access to the feed as soon as it becomes available.

For the Canadiens, Maevex delivered a combination of full HD 1080p and the ability to set low user-definable bitrates between 100 Kbps and 25 Mbps via the Matrox PowerStream software. This ensures that content distribution would meet the quality requirements while keeping bandwidth costs down and avoiding needless stress on the building’s IT network.

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