European Athletics Championships: Eurovision Sport on the Road to Rome tech initiative

2024 European Athletics Championships in Rome (credit: European Athletics)

The 2024 European Athletics Championships in Rome, which concluded on Wednesday (12 June), provided Eurovision Sport with the opportunity to introduce technology from sports technology startups during the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) host broadcast of the event.

Eurovision Sport – which manages a range of media rights on behalf of EBU members – launched a search for “pioneering sports broadcasting tech” in partnership with innovation accelerator Hype Sports Innovation in November last year.

Eurovision Sport senior project manager audio and innovation Christophe Pasquier said the Road to Rome initiative aimed to harness innovative technological solutions to “enhance the broadcast and overall experience” of the Rome Championships.

He said: “This initiative emerged from a collaboration between us at Eurovision Sport and Hype Sports Innovation, focusing on integrating cutting-edge technologies into sports broadcasting to improve production quality, digital streaming, AI-driven data analytics, and event management systems like ticketing.

“This is the first time we have partnered with Hype Sports Innovation; however, we have worked on additional projects involving technology in sports events.”

In June last year, the EBU explored the practical use of AI in sports broadcasting with a voice cloning project during the European Athletics Team Championships in Poland.

“This project used AI to replicate live blog content and create audio versions with the cloned voice of a former athlete, Hannah England, providing fans with more dynamic content across multiple platforms,” said Pasquier.

Read more Inside the EBU’s AI voice cloning project at the European Athletics Team Championships

For the Road to Rome initiative, the selection process was split into four parts: applicants submitted their solutions, followed by a proposal review and validation of concept.

“After meeting with the Road To Rome board, we compiled a solutions shortlist before the selection and implementation phase,” said Pasquier. “When we launched the search, we specifically looked for tech founders ready with innovative solutions that could impact the European Athletics Championships 2024 in Rome, particularly in production and engineering, digital streaming and OTT, athlete AI and data analytics, or metadata production.”

2024 European Athletics Championships in Rome (credit: European Athletics)

A cloud-based mixer was highlighted by EBU ahead of the Championships in Rome. Pasquier explained: “The cloud-based mixer allowed for unilateral feeds, enabling rights holders to produce customised content. Rights holders responded positively to this technology, after successful deployment during the Championships, and appreciated the flexibility and efficiency it provided in producing tailored content.”

With the Rome event now concluded, Eurovision Sport will evaluate all of the initiatives based on their performance and feedback from stakeholders. It is anticipated that the names of the individual suppliers will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We aim to analyse the PoC effectiveness and impact of these technologies to determine their suitability for future events where we act as the host broadcaster,” said Pasquier, who added that the EBU plans to run similar projects in future.

“We want to emphasise the importance of leveraging new technologies to enhance the delivery and experience of sports broadcasts,” he said. “Within the EBU, we have an incredible Technology and Innovation department that helps us identify and implement the best AI-based solutions, such as EUROVOX.IO, an open toolkit for transcription and translation. We anticipate future collaborations with Member broadcasters and Federations, aiming to implement innovative solutions across various competitions.”

Read more European Athletics Championships: EBU provides comprehensive coverage and technology debuts in Rome

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