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Sony Technology Outfits Arsenal Stadium in U.K.

At 93 years of age, the Arsenal stadium in Highbury was a dearly loved but outdated institution. Arsenal needed a larger facility and wanted it to be more appealing to a new generation of fans. The aim was to make it a 'day out' for fans, drawing them to the stadium for more than just the match.

Good, quality entertainment was a key aspect from the outset. To that effect, Arsenal looked for the most technologically advanced solution available for content creation and distribution and one that was based on high definition (HD) technology. Arsenal wanted to be able to broadcast in HD from day one of being at the Emirates Stadium. Challenges lay not only in ensuring that the entire system - from production to distribution to presentation - worked in HD format but in the fact that there was no existing solution in the market to tap into.

Sony and Arsenal were developing a brand new solution from scratch and a massive one at that. Emirates Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000, is the first HD streaming stadium in the world. Sony Professional Services, with system integrator Venue Solutions, worked closely with Arsenal to create a digital content package that keeps fans entertained and informed.

In addition, the solution included equipping stadium facilities such as the press room and cinema and conference rooms with Sony SXRD™ 4K projectors. Sony's end-to-end HD solution combines HD broadcast products with leading edge encoding and streaming techniques to provide a true HD AVIT solution.

Content is produced in the HD production room, which is able to handle sources from OB trucks, Ziris View players, RSS Feeds, source decks and satellites. The produced output is then sent to large screens within the stadium bowl and also to the 450 LCD screens around the stadium. Distribution to the screens is based on MPEG-4 (H264/AVC) compression with the stream being carried over the stadium local area network (LAN).

The key to the solution was the creation of the Sony ICS-FW40 streaming receiver card which is installed into each LCD display. This card not only acts as the stream decoder for content it also provides direct control and monitoring of the content that is displayed in each individual screen.

"From our perspective, if you are going to do something, you've got to ensure all parts of the chain work together and to the best of their ability. Sony has been pioneering and investing in HD and we knew that we could future-proof our investment with them. Sony was very committed in making this project a success,' said Adrian Ford, Commercial Director, Arsenal. "Sony is proud to be at the heart of content production within Emirates Stadium. Arsenal's requirement for an HD solution was a real challenge for all involved. By uniting Sony Professional Services with our R&D and factory resources Sony was able to rise to the challenge," said Mark Grinyer, Manager, Professional Services Sony UK. Customer benefits By being able to create, distribute and present good, quality entertainment, Arsenal are steadily bringing a whole new dimension to watching football matches. Fans are spending longer days at the stadium to watch the match and other entertainment - behind-the-scenes Club footage, pre-match interviews and post-match analysis on Arsenal TV, the Club's very own channel.

The ability to draw fans in by customizing the content on each screen - adding text, graphics, graphical bars or split screen effects - has been a major advantage of the solution. 'Moving from analog to HD was challenging as the latter is a relatively young technology. Sony was the only provider that could give us the end-to-end solution we were looking for to give our fans quality entertainment. There's definitely been a change in culture at Arsenal - fans are spending more time at the stadium because we are able to give them something quite special. We see them come in an hour before the match starts, instead of 5 minutes,' said Ford.

  • Sony Ziris content creation and content management software
  • 450 Sony Professional Series LCD screens in the general concourse, Club areas and executive boxes
  • 450 Sony ICS-FW40 streaming receiver cards
  • HD content relayed directly to each screen over the stadium network infrastructure as an MPEG4 (H264/AVC) stream
  • HD production room, including MFS-2000 switcher, for creation of live content
  • Blue chip conferring facilities including 4K resolution SXRD projection
  • IP based camera for pro-zone player performance analysis

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Since 1970, Sony Training Institute, the industry education leader, has trained thousands of video professional like you on the latest service technologies and production techniques. In addition to offering production and post production courses taught with entirely digital or a mixture of digital and analog equipment, Sony Training Institute provides workshops designed specifically to put you on the right track in your transition to digital.

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Cameras - Production products are serviced in both our Eastern and Western Services Facilities.

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