Heads Up on BT Sport’s remote production of the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with the Emirates FA Cup and his team mates on Saturday 1 August after beating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley

The Heads Up FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea, which took place last weekend (Saturday 1 August) and saw the Gunners defeat their London rivals 2-1, was produced remotely by BT Sport.

BT Sport was the host broadcaster for Saturday’s match, which was dedicated to the nation’s mental health.

The competition was also broadcast by BBC Sport, which reported that the match delivered its viewing record for the 2019-20 season with 8.2 million viewers, a 46.1% audience share. This beats the 7.3 million recorded for BBC Sport last month on the semi-final at Wembley between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Jamie Hindhaugh, BT Sport’s chief operating officer, told SVG Europe that the production for the FA Cup Final was carried out remotely, using the model the broadcaster has been using since the beginning of lockdown.

Early on in April, BT Sport took the radical step of moving its entire production operation out of its studios at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London, and in just three weeks turned it into a decentralised remote operation following the lockdown of the UK.

BT Sport moved quickly to be able to run the entirety of its channel output with just five people on location at its studios in Stratford, while every other member of staff worked from their respective homes.

Since then, in June it said that lockdown had accelerated its remote production ambitions’ it revealed it has moved permanently to a fully remote, distributed production workflow for more of its content, including coverage of the Premier League. This brings forward its vision to go fully remote by 2023.

On the Heads Up FA Cup Final, Hindhaugh said: “We are producing remotely from High Wycombe, with presentation live from Wembley Stadium, plus a remote gallery from the BT Sport studio.”

Hindhaugh added: “We will be making dynamic crowd noise available around the fixture, as well as broadcasting the game in 4K UHD with HDR and Dolby Atmos.”

Following the semi-finals earlier this month, when Arsenal beat Manchester City and Chelsea saw off Manchester United, last Saturday’s competition was a London derby at Wembley Stadium and a repeat of the 2017 Final, which was also edged by the Gunners.

This year’s Final kicked off at 5.30pm BST in the UK and was shown live on both BBC One and BT Sport.

The Final was the culmination of The FA and Heads Together’s season-long Heads Up campaign. Spearheaded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, Heads Up aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to encourage more people to feel comfortable talking about, and take action to improve, their mental health.

In recognition of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the fixture – the first FA Cup Final to be held behind-closed-doors – the theme was the #SoundOfSupport. While Wembley Stadium was silent, the conversation around mental health was louder than ever, with fans urged to show the ‘sound of support’ – and to make sure it’s heard by those who need it.

Ahead of kick-off, there was a powerful 60 second #SoundOfSupport moment dedicated to Heads Up. Unique artificial crowd noise was played in the stadium, created from a soundscape of real mental health conversations with fans and players. The crowd noise was introduced to the players and fans by a rallying spoken word piece from poet and mental health champion Hussain Manawer.

The FA Cup’s historic anthem Abide with Me was performed by Brit and BET award winning artist Emeli Sandé from the roof of Wembley Stadium connected by EE. The performance was pre-recorded and played within the stadium bowl and to the global television audience ahead of kick-off.

There was no presentation party and the post-match trophy presentation took place on the pitch.

For more news and content from the Heads Up campaign visit TheFA.com/HeadsUp and headstogether.org.uk/heads-up.

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