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May Pac Bout Was Learning Experience for iN Demand

The pay-per-view satellite feed transmission for the May 2 Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight to operators went off without a major hitch, but iN DEMAND was armed and ready for any potential body punches to the megafight’s signal, according to company officials.

In an unprecedented show of technical force from its New York offices, to its technical uplinking facilities in Denver to its technical backup headquarters in Atlanta, iN DEMAND was prepared for any signal mishaps during what turned out to be the biggest event in PPV history.

“Our preparedness matched the size and magnitude of the event,” said Mark Boccardi, iN DEMAND Senior Vice President of Programming and Business Development.

On the night of the fight, iN DEMAND’s uplinking facility at Comcast Wholesale in Denver, which usually has four or five employees on hand for a typical PPV event, was staffed by more than 20 employees to make any necessary modifications or changes to the satellite feed at a moment’s notice, according to John Schultz, Vice President of Broadcast Operations for the company.

He added the company’s disaster recovery facility at Encompass Digital Media in Atlanta was also in hot standby mode. If there was a problem with the transmission of the feed from the Denver facility they could resume the broadcast to the cable operators from Atlanta in less than a minute to keep the signal going for viewers.

“It could have been any other event, but it was that preparedness that was the most important thing for this type of magnitude of an event,” Schultz said.

Back in New York, iN DEMAND had an email chain consisting of more than a dozen employees who were watching the headends of various New York City-area distributors (as well as a satellite dish on its own roof to look at the raw feed) for any abnormalities in the signal feed.

“We knew if there were any problems we would be able to resolve them quickly if we had everyone on the same email and it proved to be very helpful,” Boccardi said.

Boccardi, who was in Las Vegas for the fight, was also on the email chain and was able to relay information from Showtime and HBO regarding any issues back to iN DEMAND’s officials in New York to make sure everything was handled quickly and efficiently.

Lauren LoFrisco, SVP of Affiliate Marketing, was impressed with the collaboration and advanced preperation demonstrated by each of the PPV affiliates. Each of the distributors did its part and also bulked up its resources at its respective headends to avoid any signal disasters.

Schultz said it was imperative that iN DEMAND be prepared to react as quickly as possible to any signal problems given the event’s magnitude. “We looked at it as if you were a viewer who bought this for $90 and the signal is out for five to 10 minutes it’s an eternity,” he said. “We needed to be able to recover the signal as soon as possible.”

The company also added several extra backup recordings for the VOD replays in English and Spanish. Because of the precautions iN DEMAND takes for large-scale events, he said, it now has a template to work from when the next mega PPV event comes up.

“We feel good about the elements we put in place,” Schultz said. “Adjustments to that contingency plan make it much easier to plan for each event.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.