ECA View: The Future Delivery of Live Events

Grainne Peat, Managing Director, Event Cinema Association


Without doubt, one of the biggest draws of event cinema is the ability to offer live or “as live” events to audiences. Over time, as technology and connectivity continue to improve, so must the ways in which we can best deliver these events.

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

Following on from this white paper, and as live events are returning, we realise there is still a lot of confusion over delivery options and which receiver cinemas need to broadcast live events. So firstly, we want to debunk a few myths:


The Current State of Play

  • At present, the major live broadcasted events are offered through satellite delivery.
  • There are no IP-only events for big titles
  • IP receivers can still deliver satellite events
  • Should you need to upgrade your receiver you can opt for either satellite or IP – *both will work*. 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 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 get in touch and we can advise how best to get you quickly set up and ensure you purchase the best receiver for your site and usage.

The full paper on live events can be accessed via the ECA or CTC.

ECA Survey Results
The ECA undertook a survey to obtain a better understanding of 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 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 a 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, the above image illustrates the reasons why.

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.


IP vs Satellite
There are foreseeable benefits of moving to IP from satellite for both content providers and exhibitors:

  • More control and reliability over the delivery of events
  • More flexible programming
  • Better picture quality
  • Easily monitor and manage the stream start time and intermissions, as desired
  • More cost-effective and reliable for content owners (ultimately allowing access to a larger amount of content to screen, eg 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 via secure internet connection directly from the content owner (which does require slightly more bandwidth from the internet connection).

The landscape of satellite vs IP is still quite varied across Europe, though year on year we are seeing an increase in cinemas switching to IP delivery, with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Finnish and Swedish markets now 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. The UK market, for most live events, currently 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. We have information from the leading vendors on the services they provide, should you need them.


If you have any queries relating to the delivery of events or issues with accessing any of the documents mentioned, please email Grainne at