ESPN Drives Interactive Tennis for DirecTV
Produces mosaic for U.S. Open Mix
By Glen Dickson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/3/2010 5:29:29 PM
ESPN, which along with Tennis Channel and CBS is providing traditional coverage of the Open, is using a Bexel truck equipped with five switchers and networked EVS servers to produce the mosaic for client DirecTV. The mosaic "Mix" includes the featured match carried on ESPN2's main network feed and five outer-court matches.
DirecTV viewers can peruse all the matches at once, or choose an individual match and watch it full-screen or in picture-in-picture mode with the click of their remote. While the network coverage might bounce from match to match during the course of a broadcast, the Mix channel allows a viewer to watch a single match from start to finish, without commercial interruptions. It also provides quick access to continuous match results and schedules via the red button on the DirecTV remote.
To produce the Mix, ESPN is taking the "world feed" from the United States Tennis Association from five matches and repurposing it with its own commentary and graphics, as well as modifying the branding to conform to rights and licensing requirements. The feeds are then passed off to DirecTV for uplink.
The same production setup, which includes a staff of 12 announcers, is also supporting streaming coverage on ESPN3, ESPN's broadband network that is carried by a number of affiliated cable and telco operators, as well as USOpen.org.
Don Colantonio, ESPN senior director of production enhancements and interactive TV, says that improved networking capability at the U.S. Open site makes it possible to simultaneously produce five matches out of one truck and deliver coverage that is "broadcast quality on a broadband budget."
ESPN has setup both Gig-E and SDTI networking across the EVS servers, which are shared by both ESPN and Tennis Channel, explains Colantonio. That allows them to drag files across the network and access creative elements from both networks such as features, opens, interviews and press conferences, and incorporate them into the extra Mix channels.
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