UFC Upgrades Workflows With Levels Beyond

The mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship organization has turned to Levels Beyond's Reach Engine platform to manage its entire worldwide video production workflow.

The move is part of a wider effort by UFC to expand its production and distribution. A key part of that expansion will involve the digitization of UFC's entire 19-year content library, which has over 30,000 hours of content, and the creation of systems to vastly improve content archiving, and the access to material from live MMA bouts.

UFC is planning to expand its original programming from 90 hours in 2011 to about 350 hours this year as part of its new partnership the Fox Sports Media Group, which includes Fox, Fox Deportes, FX, Fuel TV, Speed and all of Fox's regional sports networks.

In addition to the 12 plus UFC live Pay-Per-View events produced around the world each year, Fox is planning to broadcast four fights each year. In the spring of 2012, UFC's weekly reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter, will also bow on FX.

Currently, UFC programming is broadcast in 150 territories reaching over one billion homes worldwide, in 21 different languages.

The new digital asset management system (DAM) has allowed much improved handling of the content created as part of the new Fox deal and the company's ongoing pay per view business, explains Christy King, director of new media and technology for Zuffa, LLC, the owner of the UFC brand.

"The DAM [digital asset management system] allowed us to solve our most pressing want first, which was to provide constantly updated programming to the cable industry," King noted. "In order to support our pay-per-view product, we wanted to provide fresh content to cable's VOD systems to home subscribers in the US and Canada."

King also added that "we worked with Avail-TVN as our first major delivery point, and developed a cable labs compliant digital delivery path that allows us to push customized VOD menus and programming through Avail-TVN to set top boxes in nearly every MSO, updating every 3 weeks."

In addition to the Fox partnership and pay per view TV platform, the new digital asset management solution has also allowed UFC to dramatically expand its distribution to international broadcasters and newer digital outlets, such as Xbox Live, Hulu, iTunes, and other over-the-top providers, King notes.

Handling all the different formats needed for these various outlets with their old tape based workflows "wouldn't have been possible," she adds.

The new system also allows UFC editors and producers as well as outside outlets to access content via the Levels Beyond Reach Engine web interface to find and retrieve footage. That dramatically speeds up the processing and delivery of content and opens up new revenue opportunities for repurposing archival content.

UFC first deployed the DAM last summer and continues to expand its features as part of a larger move to file-based workflows. These include plans to expand cloud-based delivery of content.