Rio 2016

Live From Rio 2016: Belgian Broadcaster VRT Excels In Production of Road-Race Cycling for OBS

Network meets demands of English- and Flemish-speaking viewers at home

When it comes to finding cycling expertise, look no further than the Belgians. The nation’s Olympic-rights holder VRT (Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie) has played a major role in OBS’s production of the host-broadcast feed in road-race cycling.

Lead producer Jo Deferme oversees the Olympic production of Belgian broadcaster VRT at the IBC in Rio.

Lead producer Jo Deferme oversees the Olympic production of Belgian broadcaster VRT at the IBC in Rio.

And perhaps the hard work generated some Olympic goodwill: countryman Greg Van Avermaet took gold in the men’s road race to claim one of the nation’s five medals so far at these Olympics.

“This could probably be the most successful Olympics for our athletes,” says Jo Deferme, lead producer onsite for VRT’s coverage of the Games. “Maybe then it also will be for us on television.”

VRT has a modest crew at the IBC: 35 staffers. In Brussels, 60-70 staffers are supporting the efforts.

The network has deployed unilateral camera crews at the road-race cycling, track cycling, athletics, swimming, and gymnastics venues. VRT also has a studio set at the TV Tower in Olympic Park, where Deferme works his hardest to get Belgian medalists to come for interviews.

VRT produces Olympics coverage in both English and Flemish, with two networks offering Flemish coverage. Between these three networks, VRT is on-air in some capacity broadcasting the Olympics nearly 24 hours a day. The network has also picked up the streaming app from OBS to offer complete digital coverage for viewers back home.

Despite some general adversity created by the logistics of these Games for many broadcasters here, Deferme is pleased with how his team has performed.

“My team has been very flexible, and that’s what we expect at the Olympics,” he says. “There’s a lot to do, and you have to improvise. If we are surprised [in getting a particular] medal, we have to be able to get from venue to venue. So everybody is doing their best, and I am very pleased.”