Remote commentary solutions are a relatively new concept, having gained popularity in recent years due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In this article we summarize the top options available on the market today. For a full list visit our directory page.
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What is a remote commentary solution?
A remote commentary solution allows commentators or broadcasters to narrate a sports game from any location in the world, using just an internet connection and a connected device. The commentator is able to watch the game live via a monitor and comment in near real time using a SaaS platform, all from the comfort of their home, hotel or remote studio.
With a cloud-based commentary solution, all that’s needed is a PC, microphone and internet connection. (Image credit: TVU Networks)
Benefits of cloud-based commentary solutions
The obvious benefit of using a remote commentary solution is the fact that sports broadcasters do not have to physically be at the event, which saves on travel and logistical costs and also allows commentators to perform multiple jobs in one day, improving operational efficiency.
Events that require multiple language feeds can also benefit, with a remote commentary solution it’s easy to patch in commentators from around the world to cover the event, these feeds can then be routed to their relevant localised channels.
As the solutions are cloud-based there are also no hardware costs and it’s easy for sports casters to login to the chosen SaaS platform via their laptop, meaning there’s a low learning curve for anyone wishing to use the software. It can also be a great backup solution if you need a commentator last minute to cover an event.
Downsides of using a remote commentary solution
Common concerns with remote commentary solutions include latency issues and losing that natural dialogue that comes from actually being at an event.
Latency issues can largely be overcome from a technological point of view, but it’s difficult to replicate the feeling of being at a game especially when there are multiple commentators, so this is something that would have to be taken into consideration with any production.
Options for remote commentary solutions
There are a handful of great options available on the market today. For a full list, please visit our directory page.
Quicklink Remote Commentary
Quicklink’s remote commentary solution allows production teams to add real-time commentary from any location with an internet connection.
Features include inbuilt Audio over IP using the Audinate Dante™, ensuring optimal communication between Dante™ enabled devices and the Remote Commentary solution. The solution also supports Livewire+™ conforming to the new AES67-2013 Interoperability Standard allowing connection between AES67 devices.
There are a number of high profile companies reportedly using the solution, such as Fox Sports, Red Bull Media House and Star Sports. Martin Reich, from Audioconsulting AG reports that “Quicklink Remote Commentator is a true ‘plug-and-play’ solution. It’s stable, simple and reliable.”
Pricing is not available on the website but users are invited to fill out a contact form on their site to request details.
TVU Remote Commentator
TVU’s browser-based remote commentary solution offers a number of benefits to sports broadcasters. Firstly, TVU autosync technology helps to overcome latency concerns by ensuring all the audio and video of all commentators is synced with the main video feed, regardless of network latency or distance from the event.
Multiple commentators are also able to hear each other with full mix-minus capability and a private back channel lets them see each other as well, which helps observe critical body-language queues and replicate in-person talent interaction.
TVU Remote Commentator is fully compatible with the wider TVU ecosystem, such as TVU Producer or TVU Partyline, offering a variety of production options to broadcasters who are looking to scale.
Kiswe‘s cloud video and remote commentary platform, Kiswe Studio, enables remote production and multilingual commentary for sports and media broadcasting. According to their site they’re working with large sports broadcasters such as NBA and ESPN.
All production is performed within a browser based application, with the ability to add up to four remote commentators. Video feeds of the commentators can be added in as a picture-in-picture overlay to the main broadcast as well if this is necessary. Kiswe also supports multilingual production, so is a good choice if you’re looking to localise live sports coverage.
Spalk markets itself as a ‘virtual sportscasting studio’ and is specifically designed from the ground-up as a remote commentary solution. Like the other options, Spalk also works with big name clients such as Infront Sports, Sky, Six Nations and more. What’s unique about Spalk is access to its large commentator network which has 500+ commentators available in 50 different languages, with a roster of professionals available across 30 different sports.
Spalk’s studio is completely cloud-based and accessed via a web browser with just a laptop and internet connection, with some features such as advanced equalizers and mix panel also included for remote producers.
NEP’s remote commentator solution is another good option for broadcasters looking for professional-grade commentary, having been awarded an Outstanding Technical Achievement, Audio Award at the 2018 IBC Show.
NEP’s Audio & Video Fingerprint technology automatically detects lip sync offsets, incorrect formats and wrong audio channel mapping, ensuring high quality, perfectly synced audio output. Also included are portable commentary units that can be easily configured to a specific event, even when commentators and the event venue are on different sides of the world.
There is no doubt that remote commentary will become more and more popular over the next few years, with pressures to reduce costs, lower Co2 emissions and advances in IP and cloud technology, it makes sense for many broadcasters to report from home or a local studio.
But there is of course no substitute for actually being at the game and there will definitely be a trade-off between efficiency and production value, with many casters still preferring to be present at the game.