VITEC emerging as tech industry tour de force



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Andrew Smith at Coliseum Europe 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

As every year passes by, technology and digital remain on the ascent and Andrew Smith of VITEC – the market-leading provider of video streaming and other digital services – feels that a stadium can be termed “premium” in the real sense of the term if it can feed its fans with the latest in tech bells and whistles. And VITEC does just that.

Smith, who is in charge of the Sales part in VITEC, does not exactly come from a stadium background. He has worked in the audio-video (AV) industry for over 20 years and is very sound in his technical knowledge.

Andrew Smith, Sales Director, VITEC, UK, in an interaction with ‘Coliseum’ gives an insight into where the technology sits in a venue within the VITEC network and how the system works. He also talks about how content is key and how the company helps infuse the real tech ambience in a stadium which fans will never get to experience before their television sets. Smith also shares how the company gave digital teeth to the home of the Saracens Rugby Club – the Stone X Stadium in London (UK).
 

VITEC

Paris (France)-based VITEC is a market-leading provider of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), Video Streaming and Digital Signage Solutions that help organizations harness the power of video to engage, empower and evolve. The IPTV platform which is secure and reliable began to be deployed in stadiums in 2015 and added digital signage to support venue initiatives.

Andrew Smith informed that VITEC has been around since 1988 and “we have been basically developing the technology that allows you to deliver television content and video content across your core networks. Moving on from that, we have been creating our own technology and networks to give you access to digital signage and we also work on the content allowing the venue operators to deliver the same across their stadiums, venues and networks.”
 

System Overview

VITEC helps herald a future with their infinitely powerful tech solutions and boast a number of input devices for the “ability to take in television and satellite streams, video cameras and whatever A/V sources venue operators have within their network and ingest those on to their existing network or into a separate network. We also have the ability to take those streams and convert them into formats that fit mobile phone devices and wireless devices.”

He added, “VITEC technology gives spectators the experience which they will not find anywhere else other than within that venue or stadium.”
 

Saracens Digital Upgrade

 

Saracens Rugby Club

The Saracens Rugby Club is an English professional rugby union club based in North London, England (UK), which currently plays in Premiership Rugby, the highest level of competition in English rugby. Established in 1876, the club has spent most of its existence in and around Southgate in the London Borough of Enfield.
 

Stone X Stadium

The 10,500-capacity Barnet Copthall is a sports venue on the Hendon-Mill Hill borders in London (UK) which houses several complexes, including a local authority-owned swimming pool and gymnasium facilities, a golf-driving range with a nine-hole pitch and putt run by Metro Golf. The main stadium is a multiuse venue which is home of the rugby union Premiership side Saracens. The stadium is currently known as the Stone X Stadium for sponsorship reasons.
 

Saracens Project

Smith informed that Saracens wanted to move into digital upgrade and the “system that they had down there been traditionally screens. Fans that walked through the door could just watch the matches and did not get the tech feel. So, we helped deliver live streams around the Stone X Stadium which is unique to the venue itself.”

He added that Saracens also wanted to save energy talking in terms of energy efficiency – “We provided them the tech on how to shut down all the systems, the screens powered off when the event is over at the end of the day.”

Since VITEC provides that automated workflow, so if a goal is scored, it is shown across all the screens in a stadium because the “system moves kick in” which is truly a vision – “The VITEC system allows you at the touch of a button to give you that self-control that at any stage you can give an overlay to all of those systems and actually send that message out to the fans.”

He further provided that VITEC also helps to rake in the revenue in the form of advertisements – “Our system specifically points out from which sources the revenue will come in.”

Digital menu boards have become the norm nowadays and VITEC provides the perfect ‘food plan’ for foodies. Whether one wants to dig into a bowl of salad or savor fish ‘n’ chips, the screens behind the concession stands provides all the updated information such as the price, etc., due to the tech giant’s immense wield over the digital space. Due to companies like VITEC, queues in front of the food stalls have become passé.
 

Digital Upgrade Deployment Challenges

Smith stated that the biggest challenge they faced at the Stone X Stadium was “the existing network was not configured or ready for today’s technology and, of course, the tight deadlines because the season had already begun and matches and events booked”.
 

Content

He averred that content is key as he explained, “No matter how chic the arena may be, but without the content and without getting people interested in the same there is no point in spending a bomb on building a stadium. In the case of the Stone X Stadium, it was very difficult for their in-house content design team who was always working on PowerPoint presentations to create the landscape-portrait content. We worked onsite with the Saracens’ IT Department guys and buttressing us to this end was our own research and development (R&D) Department who helped us implement the above on Stone X Stadium’s existing and new networks.”
 

Sum-up

Smith affirmed that IPTV and Digital Signage can provide a venue with a great platform to engage fans from entry to exit – “Interactive portals help venue operators to keep the financial wheels of their venues well-oiled. Our brand of technology provided an out-of-the-world experience feel to the VIP guests sitting in the VIP boxes of Saracens’ home ground.”

To further buttress his above point, he said that the VITEC tech is such that when the luxury vehicles company BMW wanted to host their box at the Stone X Stadium, they aspired that during halftime the system instantly switch away from the game going on and switch into BMW’s advertisement in the hospitality area. Again, our system facilitated the same.”

Smith added, “The VITEC system is such that it can take clips of an individual in different areas of the stadium as desired by him or her and at the end of the day when that individual calls the stadium, he/she is handed a video which he/she can take home loaded with memories. Gen Z wants this kind of experience in a stadium. Our system has the ability to take that content and create the same at the end of the day and that’s where we come in with our technology. Fans are ready to spend, but they want that experience and that memory in an arena which will stay with them for a lifetime.”

Andrew Smith summed up by stating, “Our modus operandi is such that we work in partnership as well as create an ongoing active partnership with the end user giving us the opportunity to continue and expand future opportunities. We continue to grow the opportunities with the end users. And VITEC also helps venues to seamlessly interact to transform the digital consumer experience.”

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