The FIFA Women’S World Cup Canada 2015 will step into the next generation of TV and digital media this June, with coverage plans including 8K shoots, more than 200 hours of programming and record amounts of streamed media.
With interest in soccer at an all-time high and the U.S. women’s team one of the potential contenders, Fox Sports plans to televise and stream all 52 games and broadcast a record 16 matches on the Fox broadcast network — the first time an English-language U.S. broadcast network has carried any matches live since 2003. In addition, Telemundo will carry 10 contests and NBC Universo will run 21, with Telemundo and NBC Universo planning to stream all 52 games in Spanish.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint, with 52 matches over 30 days,” between June 6 and July 5 in Vancouver, Canada, and other venues around the country, said Kevin Callahan, director of World Cup technical operations at Fox Sports. “It is a huge undertaking because it will be the first time every Women’s World Cup match will air live in the U.S.”
SURROUND SOUND COVERAGE
Like the Men’s World Cup, Host Broadcast Services (HBS) will be producing all matches in HD for its broadcast rights holders around the globe while also supplying a great deal of supplementary material from crews at the various venues. Notable improvements this year include more cameras—with at least 20 per match—and 5.1 surround sound. “They’re adding a lot more production value and we’ll be doing that too,” Callahan said.
HBS will also be working with Japanese broadcaster NHK to produce 10 matches in 8K and creating a record amount of material for digital platforms, including multi-angle digital feeds from up to 12 cameras.
In addition to the HBS feeds, Fox will have approximately 500 credentialed staff in Canada, with about 120 from the U.S., to produce the events, and a presence at 40 of the 52 matches. Play-by-play coverage from Fox announcers will get added to the HBS feeds with additional crews travelling around the country, creating more content for TV and digital.
All the matches will stream to the mobile app Fox Sports Go, or to FoxSportsGo.com for desktops. Fox will broadcast 16 of the games in HD, Fox Sports 1 will air 29 and Fox Sports 2 will carry seven. “It is such a big undertaking that we are deploying our own media asset management system to handle all of the production,” Callahan said.
DRONE STAGING POINT
In Vancouver, Fox will be building two master control systems using flypacks from Video Equipment Rentals (VER), and is setting up a large 50-foot-by-100-foot stage in Jack Poole Plaza for its talent and coverage.
Commercial use of drones is now legal in Canada, where they are increasingly used in the country’s vibrant TV production sector. Fox has obtained permission to shoot from the drone footage on June 4 and 5 to highlight the stage presentation. “It was a bit of a learning process but we found a company and now have everything vetted,” Callahan said.
Needless to say, tying together operations set to produce over 200 hours of programming will require an enormous amount of connectivity. “The two facilities in Jack Poole Plaza and the IBCC are being connected by 15 HD-SDI paths each way for a total of 30,” Callahan said. “We have six 1Gbps Ethernet drops between the two locations and one 10Gbps Ethernet drop between the two locations.”