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Esports Everywhere

Posted on Dec 16, 2023 by FEED Staff

Appear has become an instrumental player for IP contribution in the esports broadcast market, as RIOT Games unveils the media technology leader as powering its new remote production centres

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Having established itself as an institution in the accelerating esports space, Riot Games’ award-winning esports broadcast productions – League of Legends Esports (LoL Esports) and the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) are consumed by millions of avid gamers each year. This consumption is both physical and virtual, delivering next-level experiences to esports fans around the world.

As a natural step for a world-leading game developer, publisher and esports organisation, Riot’s commitment to levelling up its esports productions led to the development of its first remote broadcast centre in 2022.

Scaling up

Launched as ‘Project Stryker’, this state-of-the-art facility, located in Dublin, Ireland, utilises Appear’s X Platform to support the production and broadcast of both LoL Esports and VCT broadcasts at a global and regional scale.

Riot first deployed the X Platform to support the 2023 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational, the first international competition of the annual LoL esports calendar. Taking place at the Copper Box Arena in London in May 2023, fans were treated to a real spectacle as the Chinese team JD Gaming came out on top in the final match, beating fellow Chinese team Bilibili Gaming to take home the trophy.

The event proved to be one of the most popular and highly viewed editions to date, with a peak concurrent viewership of just under 2.3 million.

Delivering live contribution X-cellence

Appear’s X Platform is a key component to live AVC/HEVC feed contribution and delivery to and from Riot’s next-generation remote broadcast centre, due to its high-quality, low-latency capabilities. Its SMPTE 2110 native connectivity for AVC/HEVC encoders and decoders, with integral SMPTE 2022-7 and NMOS support, enabled Riot to seamlessly migrate from its previous SDI-only solution, delivering greater density, significantly reduced power consumption and simplified operational management. 

“Appear was the ideal solution on the market that met our demanding requirements for high-density encode and delivery of AVC/HEVC signals to and from our new broadcast facilities,” describes James Wyld, principal infrastructure engineer at Riot Games. 

“The ability to exchange these feeds with our SMPTE 2110 IP networks has allowed us to simplify a workflow that previously required an additional layer of IP gateway devices,” he adds.

The first Appear platforms were configured to perform high-density HEVC encoding and decoding, resulting in robust video streaming with reduced latency, providing more stable video streaming at scale. Riot Games will continue its global deployment of Appear’s X Platform to support remote productions, utilising transport stream over IP with SRT gateways and FEC flow protection where needed to support different network types.

“Being able to encode, package and deliver over multiple network paths simultaneously adds a layer of resilience that our broadcasts require,” Wyld continues. “We run a mix of different delivery strategies to support our productions across the globe, and having a flexible platform allows us to support a multitude of scenarios in the field. 

“While our facilities are entirely IP based, we need to support a mix of technologies for acquisition of our feeds in-venue, so relying on the same tools for both SDI and IP workflows makes our complex workflows easier to manage for our operators.”

Only the beginning

This is just the first deployment of a global implementation, which will see Riot Games utilising Appear’s X Platform for even more high-capacity remote productions.

Appear’s general manager for North America, Ed McGivern, discussing the excitement and scale of the project, said: “We previously shadowed the production operations of major League of Legends tournaments over multiple types of networks, and had received extremely positive feedback and results.” 

Appear’s solutions will be integral to the second remote broadcast centre, that is scheduled to come online later this year in the Greater Seattle, Washington area. Strategically placed in time zones eight hours apart, these two remote broadcast centres will align to provide seamless production support on Riot’s future esports productions happening at various locations and times around the world.

“We’re excited to be the trusted partner to deliver this content at scale and support a global network of remote productions – helping set the quality and value benchmarks for esports,” McGivern concludes.

The scale of Riot Games’ esports competitions is a key indicator of the global momentum the esports industry is enjoying and Appear is at the forefront of remote production and the booming esports industry. 

To learn more about Appear, head over to appear.net

Originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of FEED.

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