Broadcasters, Teams Use Technology From NJ Startup LiveU at Super Bowl
LiveU (Hackensack), a VC-backed growth-stage startup, will be at Super Bowl XLVIII in the Meadowlands this Sunday — or at least its live video-broadcasting backpacks will.
In fact, there may be as many as 50 of the LiveU packs broadcasting everything from warm-ups to press conferences to locker room footage, the folks from LiveU told NJTechWeekly.com in an interview.
On Monday, the company posted on its Facebook page that it had spotted eight crews around northern N.J. and New York using its backpacks.
Essentially, LiveU technology replaces the need for satellite trucks. Up to 14 3G and 4G modems (and even satellite connections) are bonded together and placed in a small backpack that can be worn by a broadcast journalist.
The hardware, along with LiveU proprietary software, creates a reliable broadband video uplink pipe over multiple narrow band pipes so that broadcasters can go live from just about anywhere, the company says. The backpacks are versatile and even allow journalists to broadcast from moving vehicles.
Both Super Bowl contenders, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, use the technology to stream directly to their websites and smartphone applications, Ken Zamkow, head of marketing at LiveU, told us. Fox, the company broadcasting this year’s big game, is using the backpacks for special promotional events in New York and New Jersey, Zamkow added.
In addition, local Seattle and Denver stations that are sending crews to New Jersey this week to cover the Super Bowl are also using LiveU equipment.
Fans were able to view live feeds taken by a roaming camera during Media Day, live daily shows from team hotels and will be privy to pre- and postgame content, Tim Prukop, head of sports and new media at LiveU, said in a blog post on the LiveU site.
“Oftentimes, the content will come from events and locations where only the team has access, making the team’s website, smartphone apps and social media accounts the exclusive source,” he added.
The company’s cofounder and COO, Avi Cohen, told NJTechWeekly.com, “LiveU equipment is in between 60 and 70 countries around the globe. More than 600 broadcasters are using the equipment on a daily basis.” The firm was founded in 2006 and established its New Jersey office in 2008.
“This will be our fifth Super Bowl,” Zamkow noted. “Our first was in Miami in 2009.”
Cohen told us the equipment doesn’t require much training to use. “It has a very simple graphical user interface, and [it] takes about five minutes for the operator to learn,” he said.
LiveU recently introduced the LU500 backpack, which is about half the size of and considerably lighter than previous models, Zamkow said. He expects that some of these newer units will be inaugurated at the Super Bowl festivities.
“We also expect usage of our recently launched extender antenna that enhances the signal in congested areas. Plus, we introduced an iPhone app this year,” Zamkow added.
The Super Bowl is only one of a number of sporting events at which LiveU equipment will be prominent, Cohen stated.
“We are not only supporting the Super Bowl but … many stations that will have live feeds from the World Cup in June. Some 100 units will be sent from New Jersey to Rio de Janeiro to support the upcoming World Cup games,” Cohen said. “It’s a big, big event, and everything will be supported from New Jersey.”
The venture-backed company raised its first $3.5 million, led by Canaan Partners (New York), in 2007, with a $9 million follow-on round from Canaan and Carmel Ventures (Israel) in 2008. In 2012, LiveU closed a $27 million funding round to drive growth, led by new investor Lightspeed Venture Partners (Menlo Park) and with participation from the company’s existing investors.
LiveU expects to stay and grow in the Garden State, Cohen added. “We have all of our operations, all of our technical support and all of our U.S. engineers in New Jersey. We are happy to be part of the New Jersey economy.”