In this article by Philip Stevens, Head of Major Events at SRG SSR, UEFA’s Swiss television coverage partner, Sven Sarbach, explains the preparation and production processes associated with broadcasting live international events, such as Euro 2016, to a multi-language audience.
Group A of the Euro 2016 finals see first-time qualifiers Albania take on the far more experienced Switzerland. But one interesting fact that has come out of that group drawing is that while Albania could field six Swiss-born players in its national side, the Swiss have more than that number of potential starters eligible to play for its opponents. That is because although Switzerland may be around 1000 miles from the Balkan country, mass immigration from Albania has resulted in numerous footballers being eligible to play for either team.
UEFA’s broadcasting partner for television coverage in Switzerland is SRG SSR. “We are going to be covering all 51 matches of the tournament,” states Sven Sarbach, head of major events SRG SSR, business unit sport. “When there are matches that are played simultaneously, we are going to choose the most important one and broadcast that live. The other one will be broadcast a little later or if possible simultaneously on an alternative channel. As you can imagine we have many nationalities living in Switzerland who would really want to see their countries play.”
With Switzerland being a multi-language country, the broadcaster is offering three different programmes on its different networks. The first is SRF for the German speaking part, the second is RTS for the French speakers, while the third is RSI for the Italian speaking areas. Each of these entities will send their own presenters and commentators to the venues.
The host broadcaster will provide different feeds, including the full-signal, live stadium feed with graphics. These will be transmitted by the host broadcaster to the IBC, where SRG SSR is using an office and control room. Here they will switch the incoming and outgoing feeds and add the commentary. Additional graphical elements for pre- and post-match coverage will be added at SRG SSR’s Bern headquarters. They also plan to use the on-screen statistics provided by UEFA.
Outlining its facility plans, Sarbach says: “We are going to build a studio at the Swiss base camp in Montpellier, and for the Swiss matches we are planning a presentation studio in the stadium. We have also booked stand-up positions at each stadium. In addition, we will have different crews in France travelling around, news journalists as well as sport journalists. There will be three edit suites in Montpellier where we will be working with Sony XPRI.”
Current plans call for the broadcaster to use its own production truck for only the games involving Switzerland. But there are a variety of options for the presentation of the games. “Our purpose is suited by different production methods. SRF will have a director on location, whereas RTS and RSI will use another solution. Here, the feeds will be sent to the studios in Lugano and Geneva as a remote signal and the directors produce the finished programme there.”
Sarbach continues: “The coverage of the matches starts with a preview programme. Once the match has finished, there will be a highlights package with contributions from our football pundits and experts.”
In closing, he also noted that the broadcaster has an app in development for subscribers to its service. “We’ll also be offering different feeds from the matches for second screen use. All in all, we are offering very comprehensive coverage for the many fans in Switzerland – whatever their nationality.”