Montreal’s Bell Centre Gets Digital Facelift


Home to the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, Montreal’s Bell Centre hosts a full line-up of music, sports and business events. To drive visitor engagement, Matrox Maevex encoders stream HD content onto more than 100 displays throughout the concourse area, capturing attention of the game or other event from start to finish.

Nominating Company: Matrox Graphics, Dorval, QC, Canada
Venue: Bell Centre/Concourse Fan Engagement Upgrade, Montreal, QC, Canada
Project: Bell Centre
Category: Event Venues & Hospitality

The Montreal Canadiens hold a record 24 Stanley Cup championships. The storied franchise knows how to capture the hearts of their loyal fans. The venue sought a “digital facelift” to ensure optimal engagement for visitors. Unwieldy, easily-blocked light-boxes were replaced with streamlined, overhead dual-monitor digital displays. Spread throughout the main concourse, the brilliant displays show streams of game footage via an internal feed alongside rotating digital signage driven by Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders.

image_5__matrox__bell_centreMaevex delivers Navori-programmed content (player profiles and advertising) via a Seneca HD2.5 media player housing a quad-output graphics card on an Avaya network. A Maevex encoder is connected to each output, with each appliance delivering content to sets of five Maevex decoders for a total of 100+ Matrox-powered displays throughout the arena.

Pierre-Eric Belzile, Vice President, Information and Communication Technology for the Canadiens, ran several video distribution pilot programs with a local media player-based content distribution solution. 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 at the same time.

From the various options, Maevex was the only AV-over-IP platform capable of synchronizing digital signage distributed via one encoder to multiple displays.

Belzile only decided to test Maevex in signage capacity after deploying the AV-over-IP devices in a separate situation, one that could potentially impact the outcome of the game.

The NHL’s Coach’s Challenge allows a team to request a video review in specific scenarios if they have a time-out available. Crucially, it must be effectively initiated before the resumption of play, which usually only allows a 40-second window.

With limited time to decide whether or not to risk a time-out, the Canadiens needed a way to stream the footage to key decision-makers all stationed in different locations around the arena while requiring access to the feed as soon as it became available.

Initially running into reliability issues with other encoder/decoder combinations, Belzile landed upon the Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders. Maevex met their needs perfectly, giving the Canadiens the technology they needed to quickly make critical decisions.

Belzile added that, based on the success of the Maevex install, there are plans to expand the deployment to additional levels within the arena. He also envisions using Maevex in other facilities and for festivals like the massively-popular Osheaga and Heavy Montreal, put on by Evenko, an event promotion company operated by the same ownership group. Belzile expects Maevex to have the same impact at these events as it has had at the Bell Centre.

Belzile was also impressed by the end-result quality of the feed encoded and decoded by Maevex, noting the AV-over-IP device’s Full HD, 1080p60 capabilities.

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

Club de hockey Canadien, Inc.




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