Live from Champions League: UK channels tweak coverage while ZDF has eye on 2015 host role

UK fans of the Champions League are once again getting a double-dose of coverage courtesy of ITV and BSkyB and two UK-based OB providers, Arena TV and Visions, are on hand to make sure commentary, studio operations, and pre-game, halftime, and post-game coverage are all up to standard.

Roger Pearce, ITV, technical director for sports, says the biggest change this year from last is the use of all LED lighting and backpanels in the studio.

“It’s an interesting set up as the vision and lighting guys are work together to match the color temperature to the flood lights so that everything is colour balanced,” he says. “You need to be very careful to not be chasing yourself so you set a standard to what is outside the window and then match to that.”

James Clement, Sky Sports, operations and contracts manager, says the big change this year for BSkyB is the implementation of touchscreens by the studio pundits and the use of the EVS C-Cast for multi-angle clips has expanded to 15 feeds.

“Last year was probably a couple of cameras bigger but this year we have Hego and Piero with us for the touch screens,” he explains. The golf-cart mounted touchscreen system that debuted last year during Ashes coverage didn’t make the trip as the large number of people pitch side at a Champions League Final makes it impractical.

Visions Atlantic OB unit, which debuted during last year’s final at London’s Wembley Stadium, was once again on hand for another big BSkyB football match. The EBU is providing fiber circuits for the game as the 20 Mbps pipes that pass through Paris play a key role in getting C-Cast data and content back to the UK.

“As things like C-Cast become more and more hungry we are going to have to ask for bigger and bigger pipes,” adds Clement.

Relying on a consistent OB partner is important for any production but especially when it comes to working out of a stadium in another country that many of the production personnel may be unfamiliar with.

“The production team can walk into the gallery and go to work straight away,” adds Pearce. “And the Arena OB is up to date and modern and, like Visions, they are starting to standardise their layout. Plus they are a good engineering company that can do the little things like ad idents for feeds.”

Next week, however, the team will be in unfamiliar confines as U.S. OB provider Lyon Video will provide facilities for two England national team friendly matches to be held in Miami.

Pearce and ITV last year were at the center of the Champions League Final as they played the role of host broadcaster.

“It was a challenge and it’s nice to see someone else come in and do it,” he says of Portugal’s Sport TV, host broadcaster this year.

Next year the Champions League Final will be held in Berlin and German public broadcaster ZDF will step into the host role. Eckhard Gödickemeier, ZDF sport production manager, was on hand in Lisbon along with a crew of about 42 working out of an OB unit from TVM.

“There is a great difference here from last year as then we had two outstanding German teams and great excitement as it was our first year with the rights,” says Gödickemeier. “Now it is more relaxed as we have some experience on the project.”

ZDF used six cameras to supplement Champions League coverage including two cameras on the main stand and behind the goal. They also had three cameras in a pitch view studio.

Along with focusing on this year’s match the ZDF team shadowed the Sport TV team in order to gain insight into getting ready for next year’s role as host broadcaster. But the work is actually well underway as two site visits have already been completed, a camera plan created, as well as a compound layout and plan for power.

“During our first two days here we had a lot of chats, tours, and discussions about how things are run and understanding the cooperation between UEFA and the local organising committee.”


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