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International basketball club live streams content with Matrox

Matrox Monarch HD's ease of operation eliminates the uncertainties associated with the club's previous streaming solution

AEK Basketball Club (AEK BC), one of Greece’s biggest teams, wanted a simple-to-use solution that would allow it to stream live as well as record high-quality content in any venue.

The club wanted to make interviews with the star of each game, the coach and other players, and press conferences from all games, available to fans around the world in real time, as well as highlights of the games soon after.

Additionally, basketball’s governing body, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), has embraced streaming video, and has made it compulsory for its member teams to transmit certain parts of international games over the internet, to allow more fans to watch.

Antonis Prentzas, who oversees the technologies used by AEK BC, commented: “Anything that helps us communicate with our fans is a good thing. We operate in a fast-changing media environment. In sports, it gets even more complicated as we all consume and produce content about our favourite teams on multiple social media channels. The more material you put out there, the better it is for devoted fans to use in their everyday networking.”

AEK BC plays one or two games almost every week between October and May in the National League. In addition, the club participates in international FIBA matches, including the Basketball Champion League.

The club chose the Matrox Monarch HD – a small, easy-to-use, portable H.264 hardware encoder – as its recording tool. Prentzas explained: “It is a deceptively simple machine that gives a very high-quality stream with very few steps. Connect the camera, switch on, and stream!

“Previously, we used another solution that needed many more steps, with more points of failure and issues. This created a tremendous amount of uncertainty, making it necessary to have the supplier on-call each time, and be present at the venue for setting up at least an hour ahead. Now, with the Monarch HD, we just turn up, plug in, press the button, and it takes care of everything for us.”

Monarch HD sends the content to a server that uploads live to the FIBA website for fans from around the world to watch. Simultaneously, higher-quality files are recorded to an SD card for creating video assets (such as highlights) to complement the live stream. These H.264-encoded files, with their smaller file size, can be uploaded to a post house quickly and painlessly, aiding in the overall turnaround times.

Prentzas enthused: “One thing is for sure. Sports is a major part of many people’s lives, and it will continue to remain so. We constantly need to produce more content to meet the fans’ demands. There are many devices that claim to help with streaming and recording, but the simple solutions, such as Monarch HD, get the job done perfectly.”

He added: “AmyDV, our technology consultants, were a huge asset in helping to choose the right solution from the wide range of options available on the market.”