Warner Bros. Discovery told Adrian Pennington for IBC365 how it prepared for the Weekend of Champions.
The sheer amount of world-class action across multiple sports on the weekend of 10-11 June was dubbed Weekend of Champions by Warner Bros. Discovery.
With more than 300 Warner Bros. Discovery staff, including production staff, experts and reporters on-site across the UEFA Champions League Final to Roland Garros and Le Mans and more, the WBD were tasked with delivering over 70 hours of live content.
Over that weekend, a staggering 370 live feed and production control rooms (PCR) recordings were booked while WBD had 70 concurrent events planned for its digital platforms. PCRs were open across Europe including London, Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, the Netherlands, Warsaw, Madrid, Milan and Munich.
Behind the Scenes: French Open 2023 Tennis - Stade Roland Garros
For tennis fans all attention was on the men’s and women’s finals from Stade Roland Garros in Paris. WBD took the host feed from Host Broadcast Services (HBS) in Paris in partnership with the Fédération Française de Tennis and was working with Gravity Media on site as facilities partner.
France TV and Amazon shared domestic rights while WBD have the rights for various territories including the UK, Germany, Ireland and Italy. EMG was among the facilities company providing broadcast services to HBS.
The Cube, WBD’s centrepiece virtual studio, has undergone significant enhancements following the conclusion of the Australian Open. This includes upgrades to the disguise servers resulting in a substantial boost in computational power. Additionally, Roland Garros marked the introduction to tennis majors of the broadcaster’s 3D virtual studio, which was launched during the Giro D’Italia.
“Considering the numerous European markets using green studios, we have designed an environment featuring multiple studio locations and stand-up positions, catering to the requirements of all our markets,” explained Alex Dinnin, Director of Graphics and Innovation.
“The remarkable advantage of this setup is that any developments implemented within The Cube can seamlessly be transferred to our other markets.”
The new 3D studio means there are a lot of new locations for the presenters and viewers to explore. Dinnin said: “There’s always a new location you find that was never originally thought of as a presentation area, all contained within WBD’s purpose-built virtual tennis environment. Working with Nazia Zaman [WBD’s Unreal expert] the area is fully operational with screens and area dividers to keep the coverage fresh and engaging, rather than being confined to one presentation location.”
A dedicated HawkEye analysist on-site at Roland-Garros in Paris worked with producer Arnold Montgault in the Cube studio at Stockley Park. Explained Dinnin, “Between them, they identify the opportunities and key moments to harness HawkEye analysis to help tell the story of what’s happening on court for the viewer.
“The data was then sent from Paris to London and can be integrated into our live broadcast. This plays out through our augmented reality technology, which included two full size tennis court within the Cube studio, and the data can appear on-screen through live graphics added by our Cube operator.”
Behind the Scenes: French Open 2023 Tennis – Scaling production
WBD is employing a mix of on-site and remote production and operates four of its own PCRs in London and Paris to offer full coverage of the show courts Philippe-Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen, plus the Roland-Garros Extra multi-court feed.
In total, WBD had access to all 16 host broadcast feeds plus two press conference room feeds meaning every match can be viewed live or on-demand on discovery+ and the Eurosport App or Eurosport.com, plus wall-to-wall linear coverage on Eurosport’s linear channels and WBD’s free-to-air channels in certain markets.
In addition, WBD had producers based on-site, led by Aurelia Mounier, at Roland-Garros as well as RF cameras that go behind the scenes of the grounds to bring viewers every angle from the tournament.
WBD produced live coverage of Roland-Garros in 20 languages for 50 markets across Europe (excluding France). It received the host feed in Paris and overlaid commentary remotely. Additionally, linear and digital highlights plus social clips were produced in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Romanian and with ambient sound.
Local studio shows provided daily introductions and post-match analysis in the UK (the Cube analysis show anchored by Tim Henman and Barbara Schett), France (producing WBD’s on-site ‘In the Alleys’ intro show hosted by Alize Lim, Laura Robson, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Alex Corretja and Mats Wilander), Germany (Matchball Becker with Boris Becker), and Spain (Pasando Bolas).
Eurosport offered 4K coverage in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Macedonia and Serbia.
Unlike for coverage of the UCI Track Champions League last December WBD didn’t have any metaverse activations during Roland-Garros.
The next stop for WBD’s tennis Slam coverage is Wimbledon in just a few weeks’ time.
Also over the weekend, The UEFA Champions League reached its climax on Saturday 10th June with the final between Manchester City and Inter Milan broadcast live on BT Sport from the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul for UK viewers.
Coverage of the iconic 24h of Le Mans featured increased RF coverage from 15-onboard cameras and analysis from nine-time race winner Tom Kristensen.
The picturesque high valley alpine resort of Lenzerheide provided the backdrop for the next round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup with fans of downhill racing set to be able to watch their heroes on two-wheels for the first time this season. Live coverage will be delivered by over 20 cameras, accompanied by First Person View drones.
Fans of two-wheeled motorcycling were able to watch the latest speedway event from Teterow in Germany with 16 pit cameras (eight streamed at one time); four on-board cameras including two bike cameras, one start marshal camera and one race director camera, in addition to RF and ISO cameras. Each Speedway GP winner in Teterow was also be equipped with a live camera to provide unique first-person views of the podium ceremony following each race.
Scott Young, SVP, Content and Production, Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a release, “The complexity of simultaneously broadcasting multiple events across numerous channels and platforms in 20 languages to millions of fans in 50 markets across Europe alone is unprecedented and only Warner Bros. Discovery has the capacity to make this happen at this scale.”
From 18th July, TNT Sports becomes the new name for BT Sport. TNT Sports will present the same exclusive live sport including the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Premiership Rugby, MotoGP, UFC, Boxing and WWE.