Paris 2024: France Télévisions on making the most of being the home turf rights holder with a plethora of commentators and ENG crews

France Télévisions is making the most of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics being on its home turf. The rights holder for France is gathering a plethora of experts and commentators to bring every sport to life for viewers at home this year, as well as sending a huge team of ENG crews out into Paris to conduct live interviews throughout the Games.

On pressures for this Games, Pascal Golomer, France Télévision’ deputy director of sports, responsible for editorial, who is overseeing this aspect of the broadcaster’s Olympic and Paralympic coverage, says the eyeballs that will be on France Télévisions during the Games is the main issue the team is facing; as the French rights holder, everyone will be watching for mistakes, he says.

“The expectations are quite high,” he notes. “When you broadcast at four o’clock in the morning normally, even if there’s something not as perfect as we had expected, it’s not big story. But primetime for the Olympics in Paris, we can’t make mistakes; we have to persue the zero-defect goal because we know that people are expecting the best from us. So, it’s going to be tough.”

Expert opinions

France Télévisions is bringing in more knowledgeable voices than ever before for Paris 2024 as part of that push to be the best. Golomer states: “We have hired 65 expert consultants, most of them former sports athletes, and we have 80 journalists as reporters, commentators, editors, and more. That’s a huge team compared to what we did in Tokyo, Rio, and London. Even London in Europe, it was smaller than Paris.

Read more Paris 2024: Editorial approaches with Olympic TV channels and studios galore for the Games at France Télévisions

“We have one expert consultant for each sport,” he goes on. “For example, in fencing, there are three different swords: foil, sabre, and the third one is épée. Usually, we have one consultant who’s would comment across the whole fencing competition, but because we’re in Paris, it’s quite easy and there’s no need to send three people to Tokyo or to Rio, so we have one consultant for each sword. They’re each expert in their competition, as former athletes, usually medallists, former Olympians.”

He adds: “We are quite happy and proud to send people on site. We think it’s important. With the commentators, the result is different on site. They can feel the atmosphere. They can meet with the athletes, the staff, the families, and they can share that with the audience. If you stay in the headquarters and you comment what you see on screen, we think it’s different. Of course, it’s more expensive. But it’s better.”

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Grand plans

Although this sounds like a grand plan, it is not without issues, adds Golomer: “It’s a lot of people and we didn’t have the time and the opportunity to test them on real competitions [in advance of the Games]. Of course, we talk with them. Some of them, they made some tests. But we cannot be sure 100% they’re going to be able to be passionate, and at the same time experts able to explain the rules to the audience. It’s a hope that they will be at the top of their game! We cannot be sure 100%, especially in the small sports.”

“When I saw the other day that my on-screen countdown said 60 days, I said, “oh, my God. 60 days!”. But we have to be ready. Even though we also have Roland-Garros and we have Tour de France and we have European Athletics, we have to work early in the morning and late at night to fix the last problems”

However, he adds that the mix of expert former athletes is a perfect gender mix for the Olympics, with 33 women and 32 men. “That’s quite difficult in sports, to be able to reach the exact gender parity,” notes Golomer.

He adds that it has not been possible to get this equal mix for the Paralympics due to the complexity of explaining live the categories and classifications for each sport, which do require former experience.

He says: “The most important thing is to find the best experts in each sport among former athletes and technical staff. In the Paralympics, if you don’t have the expertise, it’s impossible to comment, it’s too difficult. And unfortunately, women are not yet very well represented among former para athletes who play an active role in their federation and who feel ready to share their passion and expertise.  Things are changing but it will take time…”

Home turf advantages

Being on home ground does create interesting advantages for France TV, Golomer says. “There are a few things we’re going to do in Paris that we won’t do in Los Angeles, and we have never done before [on an Olympics]. For example, sending several crews live with the 4G transmission across Paris to make live segments. They’re going to interview people live that are attending the competitions, or volunteers on the Games.”

Adds Golomer: “Usually we do [these kind of interviews] in short segments with editing that would be broadcast in the evening, but in Paris the crews will be live on motorbikes going from to one point to other one, and they’re going to be on our channels France 2 and France 3 maybe five to seven times per day.

“This means our audience can experience the atmosphere in Paris,” he continues. When we were in Tokyo, we were in the studio. We had nice shots of Tokyo, and that’s it. We didn’t have reporters in Tokyo to share the atmosphere, and especially in post-COVID, the atmosphere was not that fun. In Los Angeles we won’t have live reporters because it’s too expensive to send them over there. Our live transmission all day long will be focused on sports.

“But in Paris, it’s more than sports,” Golomer says.

France Télévisions will have approximately 40 crews filming during the Olympics, each of which will be equipped with 4G transmission solutions from LiveU, TVU, and Aviwest. The teams will be made up of journalists and editors from France TV’s news department – which is sending around half of those crews – and the rest from its regional stations. All content from those crews will go to a central server, which will be indexed by a dedicated team.

Golomer adds that the high levels of security in Paris throughout the Games is likely to cause problems for the large numbers of crew trying to get from venue to venue. One way France Télévisions is countering this problem is by hiring a large apartment for journalists to live in and work from so they do not have to face commuting every day.

Continues Golomer on the content on the central server: “There’s one rule; once the rushes and the interviews are in the server, anybody can use it. The first one who needs it can use it. It’s the first time [we’ve done this] in the Olympics. We thought of it a year ago. We considered it was not possible to work separately. For example, at the Mixed Zone at the athletics, there will be only one crew for France TV. We’re not going to send several TV crews – one for the regions, one for the news, one for the sports – it won’t be possible. Once we designate one crew, this crew is going to work for everybody.”

More than just sport

Each of the three channels France Télévisions will be broadcasting across – France 2, 3 and Paris 2024 – will be dedicated to Olympic coverage 100% of the time, he notes, from covering the live sports, to shows with French artists, singers and other special guests talking about what the Games mean to them.

He adds: “We have been insisting for several months that the whole day should be focused on the Olympics; it will be difficult for a programme to talk about something else. When you have the Olympics in Paris, after two or three days, you can’t do anything else, we think. We have two other channels: France Télévisions’ Channel 5 for culture and documentaries, and Channel 4 for the kids and France Info, our 24-hour news channel. We think we can use our two channels – 2 and 3 – almost 24 hours a day to broadcast the Olympics.”

Golomer says on how confident he is feeling about France TV’s Paris 2024 coverage, “when I saw the other day that my on-screen countdown said 60 days, I said, “oh, my God. 60 days!”. But we have to be ready. Even though we also have Roland-Garros and we have Tour de France and we have European Athletics, we have to work early in the morning and late at night to fix the last problems,” he concludes.

Coverage of the Olympics will be shown on France Télévisions’ linear channels, France 2 and France 3, in parallel to the Paris 2024 digital channel.


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