Wimbledon Broadcast Services inks new deal with NEP UK
NEP UK is to continue providing the technical broadcast delivery for the Wimbledon Championships, having signed a four-year deal with Wimbledon Broadcast Services (WBS).
NEP has provided host coverage of the iconic tennis event since 2014, with the production services firm also providing both host and unilateral coverage to the BBC, and other broadcasters for Wimbledon.
The new contract will run from 2023 to 2026.
All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) head of broadcast, production and media Paul Davies said: “We are delighted to continue our long-standing partnership with NEP as part of Wimbledon Broadcast Services as we look to continue to deliver outstanding standards of broadcast coverage, and the ultimate viewing experience of The Championships.”
Every match across all 18 courts was televised during this year’s Championships for the first time, including Centre Court in UHD High Dynamic Range. Eleven of the courts at Wimbledon were crewed by camera-operators and seven used a hybrid of operators and NEP’s Tr-Ace System. In addition, this is the first time the event has been held over 14 days, with Middle Sunday now a permanent feature in the schedule. Broadcast coverage is provided by NEP UK utilising fully redundant IP technology.
Working closely with the All England Club, NEP UK used 100+ camera positions, and 40 EVS servers to record and replay every ball that is played, producing coverage of every court. The feeds were then distributed by NEP to all RHB onsite, and locally on passed to IMG and EBU and other rights-holding broadcasters around the world.
Sony 3500 Cameras were deployed across site to capture all the action live in UHD from the courts. All courts have been delivered in 1080 SDR 709 with Centre Court also available in 1080p HDR 2020. NEP’s two flagship units Venus and Ceres were used on Centre and No.1 Court.
Fletcher Group’s Tr-ACE system ensures that the robotic camera heads can track all the action on the court. The Tr-ACE system uses a mixture of image recognition and LIDAR technologies to automatically track the players on court, meaning that one operator can control all the cameras as well as mix the show at the same time. The Tr-ACE technology allows the operator to tap the person of interest on the screen and then select if they want a wide, mid, or close-up shot of the player selected – from there, the pan, tilt, zoom and focus functions are all automatic.
Creative Technology, a sister company of NEP, was onsite during the event to run the full audio RF operation; with staff using talkback, in-ear monitors, and Radio Mic coverage across the 14-acre site to ensure that it all runs smoothly. As well as fulfilling the audio coverage, Creative Technology ran the screens operating across Wimbledon including all scoreboards on court and around the campus along with screens for the Queue and The Hill.
NEP UK technical manager Richard Lancaster added: “It has been an incredible privilege to work with Wimbledon Broadcast Services (WBS) to deliver the technical broadcast facilities and delivery for the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament. NEP is proud to have worked in partnership on the technical implementation and delivery for more games than ever before.”
NEP UK Broadcast Services managing director Simon Moorhead said: “NEP UK are all incredibly proud of our long and successful partnership with the All England Club in delivering The Championships.
“This is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, that has the eyes of the world watching. Our partnership completely transcends the pure provision of technical broadcast equipment and services.
“It is about our proven, collective understanding and collaboration in the pursuit of quality in all parts of the process, and our absolute commitment to provide a rock-solid operation, with agility and flexibility, whilst continuously innovating and improving. I am incredibly proud of the entire NEP team who work tirelessly to deliver Wimbledon and I, like the rest of the NEP team, are excited and honoured to have been awarded this new contract from 2023 to 2026.”
NEP UK will use the iconic sporting events 145th year to continue its sustainability pledge, using rechargeable batteries for radios and IEMs and the removal of any single-use plastic onsite, with NEP/Wimbledon branded water bottles provided to employees. The company is aiming to complete a carbon-neutral delivery of the event and all NEP staff have participated in Albert’s Sustainable Production training. NEP UK has recently achieved its ISO 14001 Certification for environmental management. ISO 14001 concerns how as a company you engage in saving energy, reducing waste, and complying with all the relevant legislation regarding sustainability. It is recognised the world over as a sign that an organisation is committed to doing business in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way.
To facilitate global coverage of the event, NEP used its own online media distribution platform Mediabank, available to all registered press and those who are a Right Holds Broadcaster (RHB) to effectively distribute content globally. WBS serviced over 50 Media Rights holders on site during The Championships including TV Broadcasters, Radio & News Access, covering over 200 territories Worldwide.