CBC Provides Canadian Soccer Fans With Their World Cup Fix

Interest in the FIFA World Cup extends well beyond the boundaries of the 32 countries in contention. Shared language, common ancestry, or simple love of the game has fans tuning in from around the world to support favorite players and teams. Paul McDougall, CBC’s Executive Producer for World Cup coverage, knows Canadians are no exception.

“As much as we’d love if Canada was in it, they’re not, but I think that allows us to kind of reflect our audience even a little bit more,” he says. “Canada is such a multicultural country known around the world for its immigration and having multiple languages — I think there’s over 150 languages spoken in Toronto alone — so our goal is to try to turn that lens back in to see how Canadians are celebrating with their country and their teams and make that our focus.”

CBC will provide Canadian soccer fans exclusive coverage of the month-long tournament on TV, radio, and online and via an interactive app for mobile devices and tablets. Daily coverage throughout the Group Stage (June 12-26) offers three live matches during daytime hours followed by a primetime broadcast. CBC’s coverage continues in the Second Stage (beginning on June 28) and the Round of 16. CBC will broadcast the final game on Sunday July 13.

“Similar to other major events that we do, what we’re looking to do is not just tell the story of the game but to really tell the story of the country, the host nation of Brazil,” says McDougall. “I think FIFA’s done an excellent job of making some cultural content available this time around, which we’re going to use as well as our ability to do stories with our people on the ground and try to give Canadians a good sense of not just the World Cup but what the World Cup in Brazil actually means to that country.”

Adopting an approach similar to its handling of the 2010 World Cup, CBC is working with FIFA and HBS to provide Canadian viewers with a multifeed experience that covers every team and every host city.

At the IBC, a CBC producer will operate a router within ESPN’s space that can accept approximately 30 sources. CBC takes the HBS host feed of each match and also has access to additional cameras, such as Spidercam and end-zone cameras, and can switch between them for a unique presentation. Eight lines feed back to Toronto, for English-language coverage, and Montreal, for French-language coverage: four that are locked on game and player feeds, four that are switchable.

To transmit content to its headquarters in Toronto and Montreal, CBC has partnered with ESPN on the transmission lines connecting Brazil and North America. Although IBC serves as the center of broadcast operations, CBC will also have connections on the roof of the Canadian Embassy and a building on Copacabana Beach (opposite ESPN’s studio).

“It’s an H.264 encode/decode-based system that no longer sort of travels in the way we all think about a pipe: there’s a whole bunch of locations. The more locations you add, the stronger the system is because there’s redundancy [for] each [point],” explains Rob Bunn, technical producer for CBC’s World Cup coverage. “ [With multiple locations added], the system just gets stronger and stronger because, if data fails on one leg, it can take another route to get there.”

Approximately 15 CBC staffers are onsite in Rio de Janeiro, including traveling ENG crews dedicated to both sports and news. Nearly 120 staffers are currently supporting production in Toronto (where CBC’s primary studio is set up for World Cup coverage), with a smaller team in Montreal.

In addition to CBC’s linear coverage, the network has rolled out its FIFA World Cup app for iOS and Android, offering a choice of six live feeds per match and allowing users to watch from various camera angles. The app also includes near-live highlights, social-media feeds, and more.

Throughout the tournament, CBC will carry more than 230 hours of television coverage from the World Cup.