Inside DAZN’s host broadcast of the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final

Dave Wade, DAZN head of football and multisport with Jemma Archer, DAZN senior producer women’s football

When Barcelona takes on Lyon in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL) Final in Bilbao on Saturday (25 May), it will be a clash between two of the most successful teams in the competition’s history – as well as the culmination of another season of comprehensive coverage of women’s club football for DAZN.

Holders Barcelona will play in their fourth straight final, aiming to become the third team to win three titles. Meanwhile, in four competitive meetings so far – including two finals – record eight-time winners Lyon have won on every occasion.

“I’ve been working in football around the world for a few years now, and this is one of the best stadiums I’ve been to…it’s purpose built for TV”

For DAZN, which has positioned itself as ‘the global home of women’s football’, the UWCL final provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the streaming platform’s approach to covering the top tier women’s football.

“Every year, it’s got bigger and better,” says Dave Wade, DAZN head of football and multisport. “For this particular match, we start off with our mantra that we have for every single match, which is we want to tell every story, cover every single angle and convey the live excitement and atmosphere inside the stadium to viewers, whether they’re watching on their phone, their tablet, or in their living rooms on the TV.”

It was back in July 2021 that DAZN acquired global rights to broadcast the UWCL and was awarded host broadcaster duties for the next four seasons to 2025. It was also the first time UEFA had centralised all Women’s Champions League matches globally. In a bid for further exposure and growth, DAZN entered into a partnership with YouTube to make the competition live and free for fans around the world for the first time.

For the final, as well as producing its own unilateral coverage, DAZN is host broadcaster for 13 sub-licensees from across Europe plus Brazil and Mexico, each with their own unilateral presentation positions.

Supporting the UEFA Women’s Champions League: Dave Wade and Jemma Archer

To support its production, DAZN appointed Mediapro as technical services provider. Says Wade: “We looked at a range of companies and considered who’s best placed to deliver what we need, and in this case, it was it was a fairly easy decision to go with Mediapro with the expertise that they’ve got, plus they know Bilbao and the San Mamés.

“They also have a predominantly female crew (including host broadcast director Claudia Santos) which is an example of how forward-thinking they are as an organisation. We always want the best person for the job; there is no tokenism. And we don’t patronise in our coverage. The game has grown up sufficiently that it’s judged on its own merits.”

Working alongside Wade is DAZN production manager Courtney Pascuad, plus Jemma Archer, DAZN’s senior producer of women’s football. Says Archer: “We feel quite strongly that what you won’t see in our broadcasts is 15 minutes dedicated to the rise of the women’s game, because we’ve heard that a million times before. It’s treated as football in a pure sense. This is a match, between the best players and our job is to tell the story.”

Production planning for the final started in the summer, straight after the 2023 final in Eindhoven. The first site visit to Bilbao was in September of last year. Wade says: “With UEFA, we spent a day looking at every single aspect of the stadium, whether that’s the camera positions, the presentation positions, where the tunnels are – everything that will help us to tell the story and all the subplots”.

They considered using a box in one of the upper stands for the DAZN presentation position but it was deemed too far removed from the action so instead, presenters and pundits will be pitch side with no ‘furniture’ between them and the viewers. “Viewers will see the players walking immediately behind and after the match, they’ll come over to our press position and talk to us, so it’s really embedded within the day itself,” says Wade.

To tell the story of the final, the multilateral camera plan will be comprised of 17 cameras – a significant uplift on UWCL group stage games, which typically have between three and five cameras to cover the action.

The Spidercam was “already plugged in” at the San Mamés, a great example of how suited the stadium is to broadcast, says Wade. “I’ve been working in football around the world for a few years now, and this is one of the best stadiums I’ve been to; everything is catered for. It’s an amazing arena, with every conceivable angle has been thought about when it was designed. It’s purpose built for TV.”

DAZN Visa FanZone

DAZN senior producer women’s football Jemma Archer will work on DAZN’s preview show airing on Friday and the integration of second screen experience DAZN Visa FanZone, available via DAZN in more than 200 countries including Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain. Functionality includes interactive features such as quizzes, live chat, and viewer polls – allowing fans to engage with the content and each other in real-time. These social and interactive elements are designed to add further dimension to the coverage.

Says Archer: “We’ve had 72 million impressions, 890,000 interactions with fans from the quarterfinals, so it’s been an amazingly successful initiative because it’s the first time that the DAZN women’s football team has worked on that with a brand like Visa.

“It’s something you can’t replicate with a linear, traditional linear broadcast so it’s unique to DAZN as a streaming platform and with such a young demographic. We will integrate it within the live broadcast as well, with a few nods to it and various dedicated live updates to harmonise between what you see on second screens and in the traditional live broadcasts.”

In addition, a selfie stick – Batcam ‘Selfie’ –will capture crowd reactions and emotions before and during the match and then be made available to whichever team is celebrating after the final whistle. It was introduced at last year’s final – a first for a UEFA Final – where Barcelona used it to capture their post-match celebrations.

Wade says: “We’ll be doing that again because it was such a big success – you couldn’t get much more immersive than the players filming themselves. And literally a week later it was used in the men’s Champions League Final in Istanbul. So that’s an example of some innovation that the women’s game has pushed through into the men’s game.”

This year’s final will be produced in HD-SDI 1080i50, while the audio production will be full 5.1+2 surround sound production with a Dolby E multichannel audio mix, the same as last year’s final. The host broadcast signal will be distributed via SNG, while the DAZN unilateral will be distributed via fibre to BT Tower, and then to DAZN’s production and TX hub in Leeds and then to over 200 countries around the world.

In numbers: UEFA Women’s Champions League Final

  • 17 match coverage camera plan for the final including an aerial camera system
  • Produced in HD-SDI 1080i50
  • Audio production will be full 5.1+2 surround sound production with a Dolby E multichannel audio mix

UEFA has allocated the following unilateral broadcast facilities:

  • 33 TV, radio and social media commentary position desks
  • 1 tribune presentation position
  • 14 pitch presentation positions
  • 10 flash interview positions and 4 super flash positions
  • 27 unilateral camera positions and 13 social media cameras
  • 6 pitch reporter positions
  • 1 indoor studio
  • 2 VIP positions
  • 1,950 m2 of broadcast compound space

The UEFA Women’s Champions League Final takes place Saturday 25 May 6pm CET on DAZN

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