Paris 2024: Rai prepares for extensive coverage across two channels

Italy’s Rai is set to broadcast a total of 360 hours of Olympic coverage across two channels: Rai 2, confirmed once again as the network for the Olympics and Paralympics, and Rai Sport, also entirely dedicated to broadcasting Olympic-themed programmes.

Coverage will include live broadcasts, replays and other programmes, as well as Olympic-themed interludes, utilising Rai’s extensive resources.

Rai Sport’s deputy director, Massimiliano Mascolo, says: “The opening ceremonies are not included in the 360 hours of broadcasts on the two channels, which will broadcast everything possible live and deferred.”

There will, of course, be a particular focus on medals and the Italian national teams.

The two channels are also replicated on their respective streaming channels on RaiPlay. Additionally, RaiPlay will dedicate further space to replaying clips of victories, competitions, finals, and other key events that happen each day.

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

Rai Sport’s presence in France for this event is set to be massive, with a team of nearly 90 people planned, including journalists, analysts, technical commentators, support staff and camera operators.

Ten camera operators will be fully equipped with backpacks for live broadcasts from any location they find themselves in, including any unexpected needs beyond the typical strategic locations in sports halls and stadiums.

The technical team is also substantial, with around 120 people including directors and operators who will work specifically in the studios that Rai has set up in the French town of Le Bourget, where the International Broadcast Center will be located.

This town will also be involved in the Olympics action as the venue for sport climbing competitions. A new facility will host several climbing competitions, including speed events and boulder combined with lead. It was built specifically for the Olympics with a capacity of 6,000.

Rai Radio will also be on-site with 25 reporters, while around 15 other professionals will cover the needs of the various news programmes.

Completing the tactical picture are three other control rooms and two recording studios, in addition to a smaller one dedicated to news programmes, which will be be ready to cover any need that may arise for Rai 2, Rai Sport, and the various Rai general news programmes.

Rai 2

The majority of the programming on Rai 2 will start at around 7:30am, with a live opening programme that introduces and anticipates the day’s themes, leading up to 9am when the first live broadcasts of the sporting day begin.

“On this channel,” says Mascolo, “we plan to keep everything live for as long as needed – as per schedule until 11pm, but theoretically even until midnight or later if necessary – since some matches, such as basketball, start very late. In these cases, we plan to be able to maintain the connection on external locations even beyond midnight.”

The programming continues after the end of live broadcasts with closing broadcasts, a summary from the studio at the IBC, with commentators, images of the competitions, interviews, guests in the studio: basically, everything the editorial team considers interesting from the day just ended, continuing until at least 12:30am.

The only interruptions to this total dedication to the Olympic programme will be dictated by the TG2 news programmes, which will be maintained and, if necessary, shifted by a few minutes to avoid cutting off the end of a competition.

Rai Sport

On Rai Sport, the Italian national broadcaster plans to broadcast at least ten hours of live coverage per day.

Mascolo adds: “By offering everything on Rai 2 and also on Rai Sport, this year we will be able to overcome the problem of overlapping competitions, as happened in the past. For example in the Tokyo Olympics we had two matches featuring the Italian national teams happening at practically the same time. This will allow us to cover everything to the best of our ability.”

Another important setup is within Casa Italia, a historic villa at Bois de Boulogne where CONI – the Italian National Olympic Committee – will be based. Rai will set up a small studio in the adjacent garden in this distinguished setting to catch up with the VIPs and athletes who will come and go from the villa to comment on the victories and medals.

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

“We have also prepared to have one more camera following athletics because it is very possible that the international director might not be able to frame the Italian athletes in as much detail as we would like,” adds Mascolo. “It’s something we already do at major international athletics and swimming events for the same reason. We have dedicated mix zones for Rai and our regular interviews on four sports – athletics, swimming, fencing and track cycling – with a journalist ready to seize the day’s protagonists on the fly.”

“From an editorial point of view,” concludes Mascolo, “we have also created a technical and editorial plan for Paris that is not overly complicated for us. We are aware that the most important thing is to guarantee coverage of the playing fields, and from this point of view, our production structure has always been able to work very well.”

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