Based on a beloved Boston pub, O’Learys is a Swedish restaurant chain with operations across Europe and Asia. Featuring an abundance of screens constantly airing a variety of sporting events, the restaurants provide a uniquely American sports bar experience where patrons can watch their game of choice while socializing, dining and playing traditional pub games such as darts and bowling. In the 25 years since O’Learys opened its first venue in Gothenburg, new franchises have been added in places like Singapore, China and the United Arab Emirates. With an average of 40 to 50 screens in each restaurant, O’Learys needed a powerful AV solution that was also scalable.
To provide each location with a seamless solution for controlling dozens of screens, O’Leary’s hired Swedish AV integration company Effektgruppen AB to equip each facility with AMX SVSI N2300 Series encoders, decoders and control systems.
Utilizing JPEG2000 encoding, the N2300 Series solutions deliver cinema-quality video at 4k resolution and 30 fps frame rate with sub-frame latency. Support for HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 and HDR allows end users to realize the full potential of their source and display devices.
For O’Learys, scalability is a pressing concern. As the American sports bar concept grows in popularity around the world, the chain wanted to be able to respond to increased demand and quickly roll out new restaurants. Effektgruppen’s use of the AMX SVSI is driven, in part, by the need for a standards-compliant video-over-IP control system that could scale efficiently when franchises expand. Operating on standard 1 Gbps networks and requiring only POE+ power, N2300 Series encoders and decoders provide the most scalable 4K30 networked AV solution.
The flexibility of the AMX SVSI ecosystem proved to be a real asset during the pandemic, when international travel became risky and complicated. Although every O’Learys bar works from the same playbook, Effektgruppen treats every new establishment with an incredible level of care and personalisation. The simplicity of programming and ease of integration made it possible for Effektgruppen to commission new systems at their headquarters and work with local integrators for on-site installation.
Finally, Effektgruppen welcomed the opportunity to work with a single supplier, citing the simplicity and efficiency of working with HARMAN exclusively.
“For a mid-sized venue, there’s usually at least 40 to 50 screens,” said Jörgen Olsson, Project Sales Specialist at Effektgruppen AB. “The general idea is that guests should always be able to see one or two screens. The challenge is making sure everyone has a screen within eyeshot. We calculate the positioning of each display, factoring in where each guest is seated, the size of the screen, and so on. If you want to ensure a good viewing experience, you need a lot of TVs.”
“We used matrix switches in the past, which become complicated when you are driving as many screens as you find in an O’Learys bar,” explained Olsson. “Another factor is that these bars tend to become very popular, and it’s not uncommon for franchise owners to expand after one or two years. We needed something that was easy to reconfigure. We sat down with the client four years ago as we switched from HDBaseT to AVoIP, to weigh the costs and benefits of each approach. For O’Learys, AMX just made sense, particularly from a cost perspective. The equipment is affordable enough for us to leave an extra decoder at the premises should they need to expand capacity very rapidly.”
“In the past, we would travel to the bar and help out with the installation ourselves,” said Olsson. “Now, we simply configure the system at our offices and then dispatch it to the customer, where it can be installed by a local partner. We have partners all around the world, in places like Miami, London, Amsterdam, Finland, Norway and so on. SVSI uses standard Ethernet cables, which all electricians are familiar with, making everything so much easier. The client was so convinced, they decided to roll out AMX SVSI across all the bars they operate.”
“We have worked with HARMAN and a number of their iconic brands for many years, so using the same supplier for everything was very attractive,” Olsson concluded. “They have supported us extremely well throughout the years, always have good stock and are quick to help us when we need it.”