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Montreal Canadiens’ Successful Install Could Win NHL Team More Games

Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders gave the Montreal Bell Centre arena a “digital facelift,” providing powerful instant replay video technology that could ultimately make the Canadiens victorious.

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Picture this.

With the game winding down, the Montreal Canadiens have to decide whether or not to challenge a questionable goal scored by their rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With only a 40-second window of time to decide, the Canadiens’ assistant coaches need access to the video review immediately to decide whether or not to risk a timeout. After reviewing the play, the Canadiens officially challenge the goal, ultimately winning the team the game.

PHOTOS: Take a Tour of the Bell Centre

A scenario like this points to the importance technology plays in professional sports, especially hockey.

An end-of-game challenge scenario could occur during any professional NHL game, and teams like the Montreal Canadiens must have access to reliable and efficient video technology in order to make informed decisions involving instant replay.

Matrox Becomes the Canadiens’ Instant Replay Playmaker

Knowing that an NHL Coach’s Challenge can potentially win or lose a game, the Canadiens sought an integrated video solution for the Bell Centre, home to the Canadiens, that could stream footage to key replay review decision makers.

The assistant coaches are stationed all around the arena, so the streaming technology would have to be accessible from various locations, and the coaches would need access to the video replay feed as soon as it became available.

Via an online search, Pierre-Eric Belzille, vice president of information and communication technology for the Canadiens, found that Maevex H. 264 encoders and decoders had the capabilities to allow the Canadiens and their opponents to make informed decisions to challenge plays quickly.

“Ultimately, taking all factors into consideration, especially the back-end flexibility of Maevex, it was an easy choice, and even easier to integrate the solution into the Bell Centre’s AV-over-IP multicast Avaya network infrastructure,” says Belzile.

Beyond integrating the Maevex system for key instant replay reviews, the Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders also served an important purpose in engaging and entertaining fans throughout the game.

Maevex Bolsters Home Ice Advantage

In order to provide fans with an entertaining and informative viewing experience, and to enhance fans’ support of the Canadiens, the Bell Centre decided it was in need of a “digital facelift.”

The venue replaced its main concourse’s light-box advertising with streamlined dual-monitor digital displays to broadcast simultaneous streams of game footage via an internal feed, along with rotating digital signage driven by Maevex.

Belzille chose the Maevex solution due to its unique AV-over-IP platform. Maevex’s platform was able to synchronize digital signage distributed via one encoder to multiple displays.

Using the Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders, content such as the 2016-17 Montreal Canadiens preseason pump-up video footage can be streamed for fans to see even when they are away from their seats.

With other hardware, synchronization was off by as many as several seconds, causing confusion for viewers who could see up to five sets of monitors.
Maevex delivers Navori-programmed content such as hockey player profiles and advertising via a Seneca HD2.5 media player. The media player houses a quad-output graphics card on a multicast Avaya network.

A Maevex encoder is connected to each output, with each appliance delivering content to a set of five Maevex decoders for a total of 100 Maevex-powered displays.

“Each set takes up one quadrant of the concourse, with the content on each of the monitors synchronized to provide a single, consistent message to a given fan walking about the concession area. Maevex accomplished this better than we imagined,” says Belzile.

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Maevex’s AV-over-IP device’s Full HD, 1080p60 capabilities delivered stunning visuals as well, greatly enhancing fans’ viewing experiences.

“The crisp visuals stayed very true to the source content and to the Canadiens product which our organization prides itself on delivering to fans,” says Belzile. “Going to a hockey game is about the overall experience, both on and off the ice.”

Based on the success of the Maevex install, there are plans to expand the deployment to additional levels within the Bell Centre arena.

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