By: Disc Golf Network Staff
Northwood Black will see full live coverage for the first time ever!
As the Tour returns in full force from the European swing, all eyes turn to Peoria, Illinois, for the second-ever DGPT Elite+ event. Thanks to large-scale investment in a new broadcast technology upgrade, the Disc Golf Network is thrilled to offer full live coverage of the famed Northwood course for the first time ever. In the past, only the back 9 has been broadcastable, but thanks to the recent investment into a mobile, private cellular networking system , the Disc Golf Network will provide coverage of all 18 holes. While the broadcast quality won’t be perfectly clear on all holes during this initial launch, it will be functionally solid. Certain areas of the course are still harder to reach than others due to the extremely dense woods and underbrush that makes Northwood so special, however we’re thrilled to be able to deliver more coverage thanks to this investment. Read more below about the challenges and solutions for Disc Golf Network live broadcasting.
About the Discraft Ledgestone Open
The 2023 Discraft Ledgestone Open (August 3-6) continues this season in building its reputation for challenging courses and high payouts. Originating in 2011 as an unsanctioned event, the tournament has rapidly grown into one of the highest payout events, with a total purse of $144,110 in 2022. Now it stands as one of the world’s largest disc golf events and a founding event of the Disc Golf Pro Tour, with Discraft as its title sponsor since 2015. Key courses include the difficult Northwood Black and the Eureka Temp course, a layout that has remained largely unchanged since 2018. The Sunset Hills course, which has been the featured FPO course for the past five years, rounds out the tournament’s locations.
Background: Live Broadcast Solutions & Challenging Infrastructure Needs
While the Eureka Temp,Sunset Hills, and Northwood Gold courses have always provided ample cell signal for live broadcasting, when Northwoods Black was installed by the Ledgestone team, the front 9 was built in an area without cellular connectivity.
Disc Golf Network (DGN), the media arm of the Disc Golf Pro Tour, uses bonded cellular technology to deliver live broadcasts to fans. Cellular bonding refers to combining two or more cellular connections. The combination provides more bandwidth for uploads and downloads. This means that at any given point during a live broadcast, Disc Golf Network relies on cellular data from all of the major networks (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint, etc).
By using multiple networks, Disc Golf Network is able to deliver live broadcasts in most areas. However, in areas where the cell signal is weak for all networks, the broadcast may be impacted. Less bandwidth means a slower upload speed, which in turn can lead to a lower-resolution picture. Northwood Black has, in the past, presented these exact challenges. While the back 9 has a serviceable signal, the front 9 is much more heavily wooded and, until this year, was unbroadcastable.
Trying Something New: CBRS & Northwood
Thanks to additional investments by the Disc Golf Network in industry-leading remote broadcast technology and improved cellular signal bandwidth in certain locations, live broadcasts are now possible in places where they previously were not. For example, the Beaver State Fling in Estacada, OR, was streamed live for the first time in 2022 and followed up this season with an expanded broadcast.
Over the course of this season alone, the DGPT has invested over $250,000 into expanded and upgraded broadcast equipment for Disc Golf Network. At the centerpiece of this investment is the recent acquisition of a new tool that helps to deliver live broadcast capabilities even in areas where regular cellular data was not previously available.
The Disc Golf Network has acquired a license to use a portion of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) which is effectively a private cellular network. CBRS refers to a band (portion) of the radio-frequency spectrum that is reserved for special use by private entities. CBRS access allows the Disc Golf Network to create a private local cellular network that can only be used by Disc Golf Network personnel for live broadcasting purposes. While there are many technical details, you can think about the CBRS system as a hugely powerful wifi hotspot that takes a powerful internet connection and makes it accessible to the DGN team via standard cellular data delivery. The Disc Golf Network team sets up a large antenna on the course, which is connected to a strong internet source, such as fiber optic cable. Then, the CBRS system allows for the Disc Golf Network team to access that strong internet connection as they would normally access bonded cellular signals.
This CBRS system was acquired earlier this season and has been successfully tested at both the Des Moines Challenge and the Preserve Championship. In both places, this system improved the live broadcast in areas where there have been signal drops in the past and strengthened the stream quality in other areas.
Earlier this week, the Disc Golf Network team ran over 2000 feet of fiber cable into the heart of Northwood’s front 9 and set up the CBRS system. After initial testing, the broadcast team is feeling positive about the potential to deliver a functional broadcast for the entire course.
While the broadcast quality won’t be perfectly clear on all holes, it will be functionally solid. Certain areas of the course are still harder to reach than others due to the extremely dense woods and underbrush that makes Northwood so special. For example, the MPO tee of hole 4 and the green of hole 8 are particularly tough to reach, even with the CBRS system in place. However, the stream will be functional and will broadcast a full 18 holes, which is a huge improvement from previous years where the front 9 has had no live coverage.
Make your plan to watch the Ledgestone Open this week! Broadcast times are listed below, alongside course schedules. Can’t catch the live broadcast? Watch next-day post-pro coverage from JomezPro!
2023 Discraft Ledgestone Open Broadcast Schedule
Coverage begins with Tournament Central
- FPO – 9:00 AM CT | 10:00 AM ET
- MPO – 2:30 PM CT | 3:30 PM ET
|FPO||Northwood||Sunset Hills||Sunset Hills||Northwood|
|MPO||Eureka Temp||Northwood||Northwood||Eureka Temp|