FIFA World Cup 2022: A Peek Inside Fox Sports' Gargantuan Production Plans
A sprawling activation along the Doha Corniche features four unique sets, 20 LEDs, augmented-reality graphics
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is finally upon us, and Fox Sports has constructed an expansive infrastructure at multiple locations in Doha as well as at its stateside Pico facility in Los Angeles. All 64 matches are being aired live on either Fox or FS1, and the broadcaster will be immersing domestic sports fans in all things soccer for the next four weeks. Here’s an in-depth look at the finer details of the production and operations strategy for one of the biggest events on the athletics calendar.
Matchday Technology at the International Broadcast Centre
Located next to the Qatar National Convention Centre, Fox Sports is pulling the production strings at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), which serves as the central point of connectivity for matches occurring at eight stadiums across the Qatari capital. The broadcaster’s section of the IBC comprises 40 video feeds from every match and six unilateral paths between venues via EVS Neuron Compress; such technology as an EVS router and replay servers, two Ross Video switchers, 13 Grass Valley Alchemists, two Calrec Audio consoles, and a Riedel intercom; and 92 channels of ingest within a SMPTE 2110, UHD HDR complex.
Inside each stadium, Host Broadcast Services’ 42-camera complement includes 12 high-frame-rate cameras, a drone, and a Joseph Tote Caddy system for in-stadium live shots. Also, Sony PXW-FX9’s and VENICE 2’s are located in two to six dedicated sideline positions for Fox Sports. All ENG teams deploy LiveU bonded-cellular transmission system while working outside the venue.
Studios Around Doha
Headlining Fox Sports’ extensive coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, undoubtedly, is the outdoor studio constructed along the Corniche waterfront promenade. With downtown Doha’s West Bay skyline and the boats floating by as two distinct backdrops, four unique sets measure 148 x 33 ft.
On the studio side, the activation boasts an all-LED demo field, with 20 LED displays (seven Penta Center interior screens, six crowd-facing screens, four west-stage header screens, two interior screens, and one LED floor) to amplify branding and fan-centric messaging. Filmwerks built the physical set with Mod Truss to protect against high winds, and Creative Technologies supplied the video screens.
Inside the sprawling footprint, pre-match, halftime, and post-match shows are powered by 18 Grass Valley LDX 150 cameras with Canon 20×5 and 14×4.3 lenses, a Grass Valley switcher, and Grass Valley Alchemist frame-rate converters; an EVS video router and replay servers; Calrec audio consoles, and 24 Sanken COS 11-Ds wireless microphones courtesy of Shure Axient. Graphics and real-time data are dazzling fans, both passers-by and those watching at home. This portion of the show relies on Viz Engine and Viz Trio; Unreal Engine for augmented-reality content; NDI’s cloud workflow; and Stype motion tracking.
To ensure a stellar presentation, TAG Video Systems is offering multiviewing, probing, and monitoring solutions. The services include TAG’s 100%-IP software platform, with more than 1,200 sources driving more than 150 displays, as well as two separate and redundant systems for 40 tech-core racks and 10 venue racks. The Corniche sets are tied into the IBC through 56 bidirectional video paths and can handle an influx of material through 60 channels of ingest.
Away from the Corniche, Fox Sports has another 16- by 16-ft. live set on a platform at Al Bidda Park for all fan festivities.
A Robust Roster of Talent
There will be a ton of storylines and gameplay to digest and dissect, and, to handle the waves of narratives expected to unfold over the next 30 days, the broadcaster is deploying an experienced team of on-air talent. The following will play a vital role in documenting this World Cup:
John Strong and Stu Holden
Derek Rae and Aly Wagner
JP Dellacamera and Cobi Jones
Ian Darke and Landon Donovan
Jacqui Oatley and Warren Barton
Dr. Joe Machnik
For more information on who’s stationed in Qatar and their respective bios, click HERE.
Fox Sports Digital Covers the Action on Social Media
Along with linear coverage, the FOX Sports app, FOXSports.com, and @FOXSoccer social channels are buzzing with activity, offering exclusive highlights, in-depth analysis, instant scores and real-time stats, interactive fan forums, and more.
For the first time in the history of the tournament on Fox, the network is offering in-match previews and live pre-/post-match shows for every match exclusively for Twitter via @FOXSports and @FOXSoccer. The network’s social-media channels also feature nearly real-time match highlights, Q&As with the network’s personalities, weekly live analysis via Twitter Spaces featuring lively audio content around the games, and hand-curated Twitter moments.
Bookending each match, the 2022 FIFA World Cup Now pre- and post-match shows offer commentary and analysis by Beasley, Conrad, Kljestan and Ortiz, alongside the full cast of Fox broadcasters on the ground in Doha. The pre-match show features live commentary and in-stadium feeds, taking fans inside the stadium as their favorite players get set for competition. After each match, the post-match show spotlights important moments, jersey swaps, and celebrations, complete with instant reaction and best-in-class analysis.
The FIFA World Cup Hub has numerous elements for the digital-native soccer supporter. Not only acting as a portal to all of Fox Sports digital content on FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports App, the platform is packed with live streams and full replays of all 64 matches; a Match Center filled with bonus feeds, commentary, rosters, stats, and highlights; exclusive original content; a fan guide to all the happenings in Doha; team pages; schedules; and standings.
For anyone interested in hearing the latest from Qatar, Lalas will record daily episodes of the Alexi Lalas’ State of the Union podcast. Lalas and David Mosse will offr candid conversations, interviews with players and coaches, and feedback from listener commentary via the State of the Union hotline at (657) 549-2297. Every episode will be available on YouTube, Apple, Spotify, or wherever podcasts are consumed.
Former NFL star, FIFA videogame phenom, and soccer super fan Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson (@ochocinco) will provide a first-hand account of the ultimate fan experience in Qatar. He will attend more than 23 World Cup matches over the course of the tournament, including every game in the knock-out rounds and through the Championship, providing video commentary and insight for Fox Sports’ digital platforms every step of the way.
Fox Deportes Joins the Party
Fox Deportes is pumping out its own content during the month-long competition: English-language encore presentations of the day’s top games, live programs from Doha, special editions of the network’s top news and soccer talk programs.
On the programming front, four main shows are entertaining fans: Total Sports 360: Catar Al Dia, Total Sports 360, Punto Final, and El Chiringuito. Produced live from Doha and featuring Fox Deportes’ soccer talent John Laguna, Mariano Trujillo, and three-time World Cup veteran Claudio Suarez, Total Sports 360: Catar Al Dia (1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m.) will cover the latest news, results, and storylines from the tournament. The program airs daily at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Total Sports 360 is highlighting similar topics from Qatar from 5 p.m. and noon. Punto Final, Fox Deportes’ new Mexican soccer talk show at 1 p.m., is embracing debate around the latest World Cup results with a specific focus on the Mexican National Team. Spain’s most popular soccer talk show and a global sensation, El Chiringuito is airing two-hour editions at 2 p.m. Monday-Thursday.