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AVoIP Case Study: Going big with IPTV and signage at Northwestern University

Competition among university sports arenas drives need for high-quality, ultra-low latency IP video streams for fan experience and revenue opportunity at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena

Welsh-Ryan Arena at Northwestern University (NU). As part of the $110-million renovation of the Welsh-Ryan Arena at Northwestern University (NU), administrators knew that fan experience, revenue opportunities, and easy content creation and signal management all were needed to keep up in the incredibly competitive world of college and university arenas.

The expectations of fans, vendors, marketers, and administrators are on the rise for digital media in stadiums. Stakeholders seek to deploy the entire stadium signage infrastructure as a media platform, supported with user-friendly content creation systems, database support and analytics.

For the more than 75 screens in Northwestern’s facility, the university relies on VITEC’s EZ TV to distribute ultra-low-latency, high-quality live game day feeds, digital signage and video wall content, as well as IPTV streams from multiple service providers. NU can easily and affordably create eye-catching digital signage campaigns or point-of-sale menu boards and centrally manage every content feed and IPTV stream from the same intuitive user interface, to support those all-important goals of fan engagement, facility management, and revenue, as well as providing a learning opportunity for student operators.

“The Chicago area is home to many professional sports teams and spectacular entertainment venues. This environment has driven our fans to expect a similar memorable and captivating experience at our games,” said Brian Baptiste, NU’s deputy director of athletics for capital projects and operations. “VITEC’s EZ TV puts NU’s Welsh-Ryan Arena in the same class as the top sports facilities in the world. Now — whether fans are attending a basketball game, volleyball game, or wrestling match — screens throughout the venue are delivering all the action happening on the court, with striking digital signage and video wall content, to every corner of the arena.”

EZ TV has long served as a leading platform for some of the nation’s most advanced sports and entertainment venues, including the Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center and the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field, so it was an easy choice for NU and Mortensen, the general contractor for the renovation. EZ TV’s hardware-based endpoints carry the on-court action to more than 75 displays installed around the concourse, at the concessions, and within the Wilson Club over the facility’s existing network infrastructure, engaging fans while reducing the capital and operational expenses associated with legacy solutions.

In addition, many universities see the stadium as a critical learning environment for staff and student operators. Within the same centralized EZ TV platform, the school’s small broadcast operations staff and sponsorship team is able to quickly create and manage video wall content, campaigns, and point-of-sale menu boards while generating new revenue opportunities.

VITEC is a longtime advocate of 100-percent hardware-based video processors, due to an ability to deliver ultra-low-latency native playback of IPTV streams up to 4K and support interactive content, video, and imagery transformations. In the case of EZ TV, more than 50 displays can be managed from a single processor, including nonstandard layouts and resolutions of TVs.

The high-performance solution at Northwestern also supports scalability into the future with VITEC’s mobile app, Media Library, and a suite of modular tools that further streamline media processes from live streaming to recording, archiving, and collaboration — easily allowing users to manage a full digital video experience across an entire venue.

“NU’s Welsh-Ryan Arena is a great example of the IPTV, digital signage, and video content demands facing collegiate athletics today,” said Joe Walsh, VP of Sales, Sports & Entertainment Venues, at VITEC. “With the superior quality, proven reliability, and versality of EZ TV, NU has created an exciting fan experience while being able to meet any future video and streaming requirements down the road. We are proud to be a part of revving up the fan energy and entertainment that will keep fans coming back for years to come.”

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