Live From Wimbledon: Inside Eurosport’s Multinational Effort
A relatively small presence delivers in 20+ languages, tailored feeds
When it comes to Grand Slam tennis production, Eurosport has a lot of mouths to feed. There are the needs of an international signal distributed across Europe in more than 20 languages and regional Eurosport channels that want to deliver a more tailored experience for viewers. And, although its Wimbledon footprint, with more than 70 people, may be smaller than at the other Slams (most notably because of the lack of a true physical studio presence), the network meets the needs of viewers across Europe.
Eurosport facilities include two standup studio positions on the roof of the AELTC Broadcast Centre and a two-story cabin just outside Gate 17.
“We have a production office and three edit facilities upstairs for highlights, and, downstairs, we have a small production switcher and audio board where we get the host feeds,” says Ann Keith, tennis director of operations, Eurosport. “Eurosport’s dedicated local production teams from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the UK are onsite, which is still considerable even if our rights for Roland Garros across the whole of Europe demand 10 markets and two full studios onsite. Norway also uses a camera with LiveU to transmit from around the grounds.”
Eurosport has total exclusivity for the Wimbledon Championships in Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have exclusivity when a domestic player is not playing). In Netherlands, Eurosport has partial exclusivity (NOS has the semifinals and final).
As part of Eurosport’s commitment to localization and locally relevant content in its markets, during the tournament, its regional teams from Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the UK are onsite at various times and in various capacities. Russian commentators were onsite during week one but are now back home calling the action off-tube; Swedish and Finnish commentators were home last week but are now onsite.
Gearhouse Broadcast is the equipment provider for Eurosport’s effort, which also includes an EVS IPDirector and replay server.
“We do have EVS here, but we utilize it for recording highlights, on-demand catch-ups, and to create a half-hour highlights show that airs every night in the UK,” says Eurosport Engineer Sebastien Martineau.
According to Eurosport Senior Producer Arnold Montgault, the production team looks to provide Eurosport channels across Europe with expert points of view, interviews from the standup positions, funny intros, and more.
“We want to show people the different parts of Wimbledon and places they usually don’t see,” he says. “And then we have a 30-minute wrap-up show with the best highlights and interviews. For example, we had Mats Wilander interview Rafa Nadal, so you had two players with more than 25 Grand Slam titles between them talking to each other. Offering unrivaled expertise is a big focus for us.”
Wilander is joined by co-host Barbara Schett for the daily program Game, Schett & Mats as well as other experts like John McEnroe offering opinions and analysis.
“We prioritize local heroes so that Eurosport will have most of their interviews with players from Serbia or Romania in these regions,” says Montgault. “Then there are the live matches — live is a huge focus and priority for us — and between 10 and 15 standups each day.”
All the content is passed to Eurosport’s broadcast center in Paris via Globecast. From there, the signals are made available to the various Eurosport entities across Europe. The Russian Eurosport service is also delivering a UHD feed.
“We also have three master-control rooms in Paris used for the different regions and then a fourth for Romania that is used when Simona Halep is playing as she gets a bigger audience than a lot of football matches there,” says Montgault.
Keith says the team hopes to have a setup similar to the one at Roland Garros for the U.S. Open, which begins at the end of August.
“The operational side here is not quite as complex for us, given our onsite footprint, because we have only five markets onsite,” she adds, “but, with individual and varying requirements, it still takes a lot of coordination.”