Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2023
The Savannah Bananas have been wowing crowds for nearly 8 years. With sold out stadiums and a wait list of 800K fans, the traveling entertainment team prides itself on delivering the ultimate fan experience. Blending traditional baseball with rules that foster a quicker pace of play, more entertainment, and fan engagement at the heart of everything they do, the Savannah Bananas needed to find a way to bring this level of excitement to viewers at home who couldn’t make it a “Banana Ball” game.
Like any growing franchise, the Savannah Bananas wanted to expand their reach – create a demand to go to games, build a fan base, drive ticket sales, and sell merchandise. The owner and production crew knew that they needed to make their broadcast games available online to to introduce viewers to the sport, rules, players, and entertainment elements to generate this brand loyalty and fan following. But rolling a truck for every game was not an option for budgetary reasons.
Two years ago, the team leveraged iPads and iPhones to produce what was deemed a “lower quality production.” The Bananas soon realized they needed to upgrade to a smaller switcher, camcorders, and hardwire to elevate their productions. But going into very old stadiums proved to be problematic with little to no connectivity and not enough control of their productions.
To produce what he calls “the greatest show in sports,” Savannah Bananas Coordinating Producer, Chad Reese took a look at LiveU to bring a high-quality broadcast everywhere the team went, leveraging the company’s IP bonded cellular for connectivity and a REMI production workflow to produce the multicamera live streamed broadcast. “The LiveU solution gave us the ability to quickly set up our entire production, while still having the gear we use and the crew that normally runs the show from our home base in Savannah, Georgia,” said Reese.
This year’s Banana World Tour saw the team visiting cities across the country. Fans not able to be in attendance could simply go to YouTube and watch the games for free. The feed included some pre-show content, the full game, and a live chat for fans to interact with the broadcast talent and each other.
“Fan engagement goes into every single level of decision making,” said Reese. With thousands of viewers tuning in every night, the production team continues to elevate each broadcast. The sport has even gained attention from broadcasters such as ESPN and NESN – who would normally send out a truck to cover the games, but instead can leverage the high-produced content created by the lean Savannah Bananas production crew. “Our imagination is the only thing holding us back thanks to the LiveU technology,” Reese noted.
Workflow at a Glance
Home or away, remote production is the method of choice for the Savannah Bananas production crew. And LiveU is at the core of this remote production workflow.
Part of the LiveU EcoSystem of products, software, and services delivering high-quality live video contribution, management and distribution, the LU800 field production encoder connects to camera sources spread throughout the stadium including the press box, high home, and centerfield. The unit transmits the feeds to the receiver in the Bananas control room, where it is edited live and distributed as part of the live broadcast on YouTube. The LU300S lightweight encoder connects to all base cams and drives that content similarly to the control room.
Everyone on the team and the Savannah Bananas owner himself have the LiveU Smart app on their phones to capture memorable moments during games and in the stands from their vantage points. This truly does give fans VIP access to exclusive content that is fed to the live broadcast for viewing.
In bigger stadiums, the crew can take the HDMI out from the LU800 pack to put video feeds on the video board and concourse. “That makes it so much easier to get our signal and send it everywhere,” added Reese. “I can see a full Multiview of what the director is seeing through LiveU Central and Video Return.”
In addition to completely freeing the production team of labor intensive hard wiring for setup and tear down in older stadiums, the REMI solution allows them flexibility to get more creative, while saving significant operational costs.
“This new workflow has taken our brand to astronomical heights,” noted Reese.
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