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May 17, 2022

Videon’s impressions of SoFi Stadium and the new era in-stadium experiences

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By Todd Erdley, Founder and President at Videon

Videon’s President and Founder, Todd Erdley, reflects on his backstage look at SoFi stadium at LA’s SVG Venue Summit

LA’s SVG Venue Summit focuses on how video streaming is creating a deeper level of fan engagement both during and outside the event. While in attendance, I had the chance to tour SoFi Stadium and the NFL West Operations located next to it. It was a fascinating insight into how the NFL is producing video during their events.

The Eighth Wonder of the World

SoFi stadium gives us a glimpse into the future of the in-stadium NFL experience.

First, SoFi Stadium and the surrounding complex are massive. I mean MASSIVE. According to SportingNews, it can typically seat over 70K attendees but can be expanded to over 100K for major events. At a whopping 298 acres in expanse,  this is a $5B stadium that is more of a small city vs. a football stadium. The view of the field is secondary–in my world–to the view of the video board. Stretching over 100 yards, weighing over 2.2 million pounds–to say it’s massive is an understatement. It takes up over 70K square feet. It houses 268 speakers. People are calling it the eighth wonder of the world. Its ability to showcase both "front" and "back" video is amazing. Not to mention that the number of ribbon boards within the stadium is nearly too much to comprehend.

The video board at SoFi is being called the 8th wonder of the world

Next, it was off to the guts of the stadium. One of the first stops was lighting control. They are individually controlling 30,000 lights. The number of things you can do with that is astounding. The size of the crew to set this all up and do the control is one. (Yes, one person is responsible for 30,000 lights.)

A view from SoFi’s control panel, used to manage 30,000 lights.

Inside the Control Room

Next was the control room for SoFi. This is an amazing operation powered mostly by Ross. What I learned today is that video in SoFi flows via SMPTE2110. They are very, very, very committed to SMPTE2110. And I learned that SoFi has, in total, over 100 cameras covering all aspects of everything from the field to a PTZ that can be used to zoom in on airplanes making their landing approach to LAX.

The control room–where over 100 cameras are controlled to cover every aspect of the field.

Data. Let's talk about data. Consider this: During a game, SoFi has a >3Terabytes/second data pipe to the cloud. To make that happen, they have over 100 racks of servers, equipment, encoders, and other tools. That is a lot of 1RU positions. (I want to stress that this is all very, very, very buckled up. As seen in the picture, the racks and data center are no joke as this was but one corridor of many.)

One corridor of many within the control room.

A Miniature City of Operations

In the base level of the stadium. Underneath the seating is a miniature city of operations. It stored the changing turf between the Chargers and Rams, catering resources, the coaches' family suite,,and areas for trucks to park. Once again, it’s massive.

Then there’s the ultimate patch panel, which contains the routing of every single camera or audio feed existing in the stadium. For a game, the appropriate network (for instance, CBS) drives up their truck, hooks up cables to this patch panel, and then produces the game from the truck underneath the stands. All of the video is routed again by SMPTE2110. It is absolutely amazing.

The ultimate patch panel

NFL West

Next, it was over to NFL West operations which are directly connected to SoFi. While SoFi runs everything in 4k60, 10 bits, with HDR, the NFL compound is very different. They just upgraded from 1080i to 1080p60. They’re also running with SMPTE2110 but do have SDI feeds for backhaul and connectivity to team locations. As fast as possible they are trying to move these encoders to be virtualized. The big big big need for these and other types of operations is IP input with transcoding. It’s a real issue. And while Sofi has rows and rows of racks, NFL has pods that focus on various functions.

The NFL is moving as fast as possible to transition encoders to be virtualized

That was effectively the end of the tour. But on the way out, I passed the production set for the NFL. (I would lie if I said it wasn't really cool.)

Videon is a game-changer

But the coolest thing about today was the number of industry leaders coming together to figure out how to make this even better. And time after time, people were coming up to me to say, “Wow, what Videon is doing with bringing the edge to the point of video origination is huge. We want to work with you to be part of what you are changing.”

This tech is cool. And I look forward to the tour in 3 years when Videon's edge computing platform has enabled an entirely new set of outcomes.

It is not if. It is about when and how far things transform.

More to come.

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