The future delivery of live events

The future delivery of live events

Without doubt, one of the biggest allures of event cinema is the ability to offer live or ‘as live’ events to audiences. Over time, as technology and connectivity improves, so must our ways on how we can best deliver these events to audiences.  

Over the last year the ECA has been working closely with the Cinema Technology Community on the future of live events. As a result, two significant pieces of work have been produced; materials to help exhibitors improve the delivery standard of live broadcasted events and a white paper on event cinema options for exhibitors, covering-off the considerations that cinemas need to screen live content. 

Following on from the White Paper and knowing there is still a lot of confusion over delivery options and what receiver cinemas need to broadcast live events. 


Courtesy of the Cinema Technology Community, the image here clearly illustrates how live transmission works.

  • At present, the major live broadcasted events are offered through satellite.
  • There are no IP only events for major releases.
  • IP receivers can still deliver satellite events.
  • BOTH satellite and IP will be able to stream events.

Should you need to upgrade your receiver, you can opt for either satellite or IP – please let us know if you would like more information.

The ECA appreciates that the associated costs and additional overheads per event for IP delivery alongside possible connectivity issues will be a barrier for cinemas to move over to IP delivery. For the short term, cinemas can still purchase a satellite receiver for around £300 to be able to broadcast events. The UNO receiver is being considered by a number of UK exhibitors and those interested should speak to their integrators for further guidance, Or for more information on upgrading your satellite receiver, please let us know and we can advise how best to get you quickly set-up.

ECA survey results

The ECA undertook a survey to obtain a better understanding of how and what plans UK cinemas had in place for the future delivery of live events. The majority of respondents were independent cinema owners with 92% stating they have previously broadcasted live events at their sites and 57% would welcome more information on the delivery of live events.

The survey looked to get a better understanding on satellite delivery over IP. The vast majority of respondents still deliver via satellite which is managed in-house. 89% stated they would handle satellite delivery in-house without a managed service with 24% of respondents having recently upgraded their satellite receiver.  

When asked about the move to IP delivery 42% of respondents said they intended to install an IP receiver. Cinema sites require 20mbps to receive live content via IP – when asked whether the cinema’s download speed has the ability to receive via IP half of respondents were confident they had,  although 24% still did not know and 13% are unable to have IP delivery. 

For the 58% that said they did not plan on installing an IP receiver, these were the reasons given:

56% of respondents said the associated costs of a managed service would limit the range of live events they will programme.  

When asked if reduced costs would encourage them to show a wider range of events, 50% said yes and 42% were unsure as it would depend on the event. 

The future of live events

There are definitely foreseeable benefits of moving to IP over satellite for both content providers and exhibitors. IP delivery predominately takes the content from the satellite stream, whereby the speed and ease of use of internet technology, with smart features built into the IP receiver and software allows for a whole new range of possibilities for both exhibitors and content owners:

  • More control and reliability over the delivery of events
  • Offers more flexibility with programming 
  • Better (picture) quality
  • Easily monitor and manage the stream start time and intermissions as you want. 
  • More cost effective and reliable for content owners which will ultimately allow access to a larger amount of content to screen such as sporting events and gaming. 
  • Possibility to organise (and stream) your own events

We know vendors are currently testing how best to increase the picture quality of HD events. This can be made possible by eliminating satellite at the source and receiving high quality source material by secure internet connections (which does require slightly more bandwidth on the internet connection) directly from the content owner.

The landscape of satellite v IP is still quite varied across Europe, though year on year we are seeing an increase in cinemas switching to IP delivery, with Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Finland and Sweden markets all 90%+ set up to receive content via IP. 

It is unavoidable that IP will become a preferred method of delivery in the coming years. Particularly if the tests to remove the satellite source continue to prove to offer a more realisable and higher quality stream. The UK market, for most live events, offers both satellite and IP but the long-term costs will certainly invoke a change in order for content providers to continue to offer a wide range of live content and ultimately their desire to ensure that the best quality broadcast is offered. 

The ECA fully understands that the short-term costs and event overheads for IP are a big consideration. To read the full paper produced by the Cinema Technology Community or for information from the two leading vendors on the services they provide, please email Grainne at grainne@eventcinemaassociation.org