French Open 2017: ITV Sport marshals “nice little operation” at Roland-Garros
The 2017 edition of the French Open sees ITV Sport continue its long-running commitment to screening the tournament for UK audiences. As part of an exclusive four-year free-to-air coverage deal that is due to elapse in 2018, ITV broadcasts a dedicated minimum of 90 hours of each tournament across its main channel and ITV4. The broadcaster also makes a wide variety of matches available on the ITV Player, along with additional content including interviews and profile pieces.
ITV Sport technical director Roger Pearce confirms that the broadcasts are in large parts derived from the “multi-court feeds by the ASO [Amaury Sport Organisation], which are excellent. But whilst it is not a World Cup-style presence that we have here, it is a nice little operation that really looks to make the most of the feeds and [augments it with] a host of additional material.”
There are no additional on-court cameras apart from one comm-cam at the primary commentary position, but a dedicated studio that overlooks some of the smaller courts is the venue for a steady stream of presenter-led features and player interviews. “We really aim to give people a feel of what it’s like to be there. Of course as we are outside and open to the elements there is a constant challenge to accommodate the changing light conditions,” says Pearce.
Collaborating with ITV Sport on its coverage is sports production specialist Input Media under a team featuring director of technical operations John Henry-Williams and technical producer Ben Hodgetts. “They make a tremendous contribution and I would not want to steal their thunder,” says Pearce. “They arrange everything on the technical and operational side, including the hiring of NEP to provide fly-away services. In [normal co-production scenarios] I would put in our own technical producer, but in this case they know the event so well and what we require that it simply isn’t necessary.”
The coverage has a very specific feel with a “variety of high quality features and interviews, although [in essence] it all comes back to the studio and the role of the main presenter, John Inverdale,” concludes Pearce.