SVG Europe Sit-Down: Eurosport director Stefano Benzi discusses Giro d’Italia coverage evolution
Serving as director of Eurosport since 2008, Stefano Benzi’s long and distinguished broadcast career also includes stints with Sky, Tele+ and Antenna3. When SVG Europe caught up with him recently, the conversation focused on coverage of the Giro d’Italia cycling race – the 2015 edition of which was won by 32-year-old Spaniard Alberto Contador on Sunday (31 June) – along with other landmark recent moments in Italian sports.
Benzi comments: “Here I represent two aspects, as director and head of the editorial team, while for the production organisation I am the director of the whole platform for TV content. We manage the contents in Italian and the commentators, and then edit the international assets according to the characteristics of the local audience that follows us on the Italian market. We start from the basis of the programming offered by Eurosport that is configured in a more pan-European style.”
Among other decisions, Benzi determines in each case which external service supplier to engage, or whether to use internal structures. “Until 2008, Eurosport productions were outsourced – the mother company still operating from its headquarters in Paris paid an outside company to carry out the TV production of the two channels Eurosport 1 and 2.”
Since 2008 the headquarters have created an Italian structure with a good margin of independence and so individual journalistic and technological structures, organisation of production, and so on were established.
In Corso Sempione, Milan, there are no filming studios since most of the work consists of customising the international feed from Paris, although sometimes this activity also involves the creation of promo packages for events such as the Under 17 European Championship.
“Most of the product arrives live, prepackaged, from Paris, then here an Italian commentary is applied. We also create some parts of the programme itself, as in the case of the Giro d’Italia.”
Benzi points out: “The Giro d’Italia this year is an entirely produced by RAI event. Those who choose to follow it on Eurosport love our commentators Salvo Aiello and Riccardo Magrini.”
Eurosport decided to invest heavily in the Giro d’Italia; in fact, for the first time two television crews were committed in Italy for personalisation purposes and one of them was Italian. In this edition, the official feed featured additional tailored images thanks to a crew positioned at the departure and another at the arrival point.
After the start of the race the troupe moved and reached the arrival point to prepare the material for the next day. They then moved to the start of the next day for a continuous chain of production.
Eurosport placed an OB van to cover all the steps, with two teams creating images not just for the Giro d’Italia, but also for the general news bulletins. An editing line was also available. Each crew came complete with operator, boom, an assistant camera, journalist and more (a total of about 10 people). The mobile unit is owned by Eurosport, with the graphics derived from the official feed by RAI. Over 70 hours’ live content were created.
Benzi adds: “This year we planned a ‘Highlight Fest’ of an hour’s length, to be broadcast from 20.00 to 21.00; it was a summary of every stage. The best of the day was completed by interviews – another new feature for this edition.”
The official feed personalised by Eurosport was derived from the clean feed broadcast from RAI, based on nine motorcycle cameras (five, plus two audio-only and two more for radio RAI). A total of 15 Sony HD cameras were positioned at the arrival point, along with Super Motion and UltraMotion cameras too.
A plane furnishes the radio link in a circular orbit above the area of activity, while two helicopters shoot with gyroscopic devices. A further helicopter acts as a radio link back-up.