UEFA and Eurovision bring every kick of EURO 2016 to audiences worldwide
UEFA appointed Eurovision in 2011 to provide a wide range of services to international broadcasters. The long-standing partnership – which has recently been extended to 2022 – has led to a trusted service delivery and product innovation to meet the growing demands of broadcasters.
The core services delivered for UEFA EURO 2016 by Eurovision are the live audio-visual contribution and distribution services bringing live match signals from the ten stadiums of the EURO to the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Porte de Versailles, Paris and on to broadcasters worldwide.
Bernard Ross, head of UEFA TV Production, said: “The host broadcast of UEFA EURO 2016 is a massive project and it’s my responsibility to bring the best in the business together so that we can deliver our cutting-edge content to as many UEFA broadcast partners as possible. Working with Eurovision has enabled both organisations to continue to innovate and develop workflows that best meet the needs of our broadcasters.”
Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA managing director marketing, added: “I’m delighted that UEFA are once again working with Eurovision to deliver the EURO. Our long-term partnership to deliver broadcast signals around the world is an essential pillar of UEFA host broadcast’s EURO delivery.”
With over 800 permanent feeds coming into the IBC from 10 stadiums across France, the Eurovision team are on site 24 hours a day to monitor the signals as they arrive. The Eurovision team at the IBC and at the venues are responsible for turning the fibre bandwidth (provided by Orange SA) into seamless video and data contribution services. For the first time, IP/DVB based technology (provided by Lawo) is being used, meaning the feeds are delivered uncompressed in the highest professional quality.
EURO 2016 global project manager for Eurovision Mostafa Bibak said: “It took the Eurovision team, under the direction of UEFA, 12 months to design and test the technical infrastructure set-up, including the installation of equipment at the IBC and all the 10 stadiums across France.”
Worldwide distribution and dedicated circuits
All 51 matches of the competition are being distributed worldwide in high definition with high quality MPEG4 compression. Ensuring distribution is secure is the utmost priority for UEFA and Eurovision. Bibak said: “The mechanism of protection is very robust. We have implemented a complex distribution system to ensure that the live feeds will be continuous in any circumstances.”
For the first time eight matches are also being distributed in 4K. EURO 2016 chief technical officer for Eurovision Puiu Dolea said: “Ten broadcasters – ranging from Canada to India and Brazil – are currently taking matches in 4K. The current primary distribution is based on a quad synchronous encoding-decoding solution that preserves the quality of the original signal. With the launch of new video compression equipment set for the end of this year and the wide availability of decoders integrated into TV sets, the uptake of this format it set to significantly increase.”
In addition to the distribution of UEFA’s international signal, Eurovision also manage dedicated audio-visual circuits by fibre and satellite on behalf of 15 UEFA broadcast partners who are operating a specific production from the IBC in Paris.
Video file contribution
Alongside the feeds from the stadium, UEFA and Eurovision are enabling high quality (AVC Intra 100) video file transfers from national team base camps to the IBC using NEX technology, developed by Eurovision. Footage, including press conferences and team training, from UEFA’s 43 ENG crews in France is sent quickly and conveniently to UEFA’s main Livex server in the IBC.
Livex remote access and programme distribution
UEFA, Eurovision and EVS have also developed an innovative file delivery system to send broadcast quality digital video files (AVC Intra 100) direct from the UEFA Livex IBC server to broadcasters’ premises worldwide, enabling this content to be browsed remotely or at the IBC itself.
Video files selected by UEFA are also being ‘pushed’ from the Livex server to around 30 broadcasters worldwide via the Eurovision satellite and fibre network using the NEX box as a repository and workflow facilitator. Up to 1TB (approx 16 hours) per day of material is delivered directly into broadcasters’ edits where it can be easily integrated into their workflows. Around 140 Eurovision staff, on-site for up to 50 days, worked behind the scenes to deliver the best quality pictures around the world.
Director of Eurovision Services & Sports Rights Stefan Kürten said: “We are incredibly proud of the work we have done with UEFA to deliver their content to broadcast partners and their audiences.
“UEFA EURO 2016 has been a huge challenge for everyone involved but UEFA and Eurovision are already starting to plan for UEFA EURO 2020 and the challenge of working across 13 countries with a decentralised video and audio network.”
Over at the official Fan Zone, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, Eurovision have been working with UEFA, PLAZAMEDIA and Ville de Paris, to provide a range of special event services.
Felicitas Rubin from PLAZAMEDIA and Joachim Wildt, director of the project, says the co-operation between all the partners involved has made it a huge success. While Plazamedia deliver the operation within the Fan Zone, Eurovision provides the connectivity to the IBC and manages the sales and booking with broadcasters for stand-up positions and playout.
Wildt said: “At an early stage, and having consulted with UEFA, we called Eurovision as we knew wherever we were based we would need connectivity. Being a public park, there was no existing broadcast infrastructure. Together Ville de Paris, UEFA, Eurovision and Plazamedia were able to deliver a studio solution with distribution that best fit broadcasters’ needs, and were also able to come up with innovative solutions such as flying a cable cam over the crowd during the opening match.”
Outside of the Eurovision operation, the EBU also acquired, on behalf of its members, the exclusive media rights to UEFA EURO 2016 for 26 territories across Europe with a further agreement enabling EBU Radio Members to cover the tournament. With the deal covering all platforms, audiences across the continent have been able to enjoy free-to-air, comprehensive coverage of the event.
The EBU Football Rights Unit have been on the ground for the duration of the EURO, cooperating with UEFA and their agency CAA Eleven, to ensure everything runs smoothly for Members.