2006 U.S. Open: While Agassi bids farewell instant replay makes debut

By Ken Kerschbaumer

For Stephen Gorsuch, USTA National Tennis Center director, broadcast operations, today signals the beginning of a two-week long juggling act that involves keeping broadcasters worldwide happy with the coverage they can offer their viewers.

“It’s like throwing a cocktail party where you need to spend five minutes with someone and then move on to the next guest,” he says. “You can’t get bogged down.”

Fortunately, the technology on the broadcast side isn’t changing too much this year as all coverage on USA Network and CBS Sports will be in HD. And that’s a good thing because Gorsuch and the USTA will have its hands full with the new Hawkeye instant replay challenge system and new video screens on site that were put in by XL Video, a global provider of indoor and outdoor LED screens.

Gearing up for Hawk-Eye involved placing a sub-switch system and person in Arthur Ashe stadium and Armstrong Stadium. The production switcher will be used to put the challenge data up on the scoreboards so both fans and officials can see the ruling. A Newtek Video Toaster is also on hand to play sponsor messages off of a DVD.

While foreign broadcasters won’t transmit HD signals back to their home countries that is expected to change next year. Currently broadcasters like Fox Sports Australia rents a flypack from Gearhouse Broadcast while All-Mobile Video provides a truck for the USA Networking editing needs, the Japanese broadcasters and a 53-foot unit that handles video playout to the large screens around the USTA Tennis Center.

CBS Sports, which serves as host broadcaster, has a truck on hand from New Century Productions (NCP) for game coverage, F&F Productions for the studio show and and NEP transmission truck.

Grass Valley gear dominates in the NCP truck (NCP-VIII) as a Grass Valley Kalypso high-definition (HD) is at the core of the truck (prior to its use at the Open it handled the Little League Championship World Series, switching between the 720p format for ESPN and the 1080i format.

Other gear include Ikegami HDK-79ECT digital multi-standard cameras with a variety of Canon lenses, a Calrec Alpha 100 audio board, EVS HD MaxS XT units, Utah Scientific router and an RTS Adam intercom system

In addition to NCP, national rental house and broadcast equipment supplier Bexel Corp. will also be on hand at the U.S. Open with two Grass Valley Zodiak SD switchers, in dual control rooms, to supply the main feed for participating international broadcasters. Bexel has provided equipment and technical services, as well as on-site engineering personnel, to CBS Sports for the past ten years.

Also look for some live streaming of U.S. Open matches on Labor Day night (Sept. 4) at USOpen.org. The move follows an effort earlier this year by the Wimbledon championships where all of its matches were available via online subscription.

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