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Promoted: How new tech gets live TV coverage to rally fans

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Oct 25, 2019, 10:02 AM

For fans of the World Rally Championship, a lot of the fun of keeping up with the action has involves trudging into remote locations to catch a glimpse of the cars on the long stages. But for those not able to be there in person, who want to follow the action live wherever they are, it’s always been a massive challenge.

Circuit racing fans are used to high quality live coverage – but truly live TV coverage of the WRC, were stages can take place hundreds of kilometres apart,  proved impossible to achieve in the past. That all changed recently thanks to WRC+, a streaming product that has been made possible by new technology and a different mindset, meaning that fans can now follow every second live on their devices and get closer than ever to the sport and its stars.

WRC Director of Content & Production, Florian Ruth, says that the step change came from approaching it as a digital product that can also be used on TV, rather than as a TV product first. He explains “At every stage on the championship we have a relay plane circling above the stages, and we link all signals – from the cars, from our helicopter, from our action crew – directly to the plane. From the plane, we link it back to our production hub in the service park from where we produce the world feed.”

Behind the scenes at the service park, Tata Communications’ next-gen fibre network instantly distributes the digital feed to TV broadcasters.

The plan for 2020 is for WRC to be fully enabled to produce live output remotely via low latency fibre/internet feeds that will bring each camera’s output to the remote production hub in the UK. This reduces the cost of shipping materials and people around the world and helps WRC’s strategic plan to expand the calendar into new territories.

During each and every rally event, no matter how remote, fans can now enjoy more than 25 hours of live coverage – enabling them (as well as the drivers and their teams) to see live updated results throughout each stage. This immediate feedback is making the sport truly interactive for fans for the first time. But it’s not just hardcore rally fans who are benefitting from WRC+. Up to-the-minute live coverage also makes the sport much more accessible (and easy to understand) for new fans, introducing the highs and lows of rally to a new generation of followers.

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