Broadcasts of French Football Matches Are Specifically Adapted to Mobile Screens

By Kevin Hilton

Football season is under way across Europe, and France is leading the way in exploiting new technology with live Ligue 1 matches to Orange mobile phones. This is a first not only for the French La Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) but also on a world level: the images are specifically adapted for screens on mobile devices, an innovation by Host Broadcast Services (HBS).

HBS won the contract to provide host broadcast facilities and production services for the French premier league in April this year, expanding its activities from the international football stage and the World Cup main feed. It will cover Ligue 1 until 2012, when the deal comes up for renewal. HBS is handling 324 matches each season, with the remaining 38 produced by Canal+, which, with Orange, is a domestic rightsholder.

Eight of the nine games covered by HBS on each match day are being shown live on mobile and new-media platforms. Because they are going directly to supporters’ mobiles, these are known as Fan games and are part of the Mobile International Signal (MIS, or, from the French, SIM for Signal International Mobile); games also going to television broadcast are classified as Premium matches. The main TV coverage uses 18 cameras, but the eight Fan games are shot with 11, one of which is solely for the MIS.

The MIS camera is located next to the main Premium-feed wide-angle camera and delivers a tighter overall shot that takes into account the demands of mobile-phone screen sizes, so that pictures do not have to be resized. This dedicated MIS angle is automatically mixed into the programme feed and replaces the Premium wide camera signal. Graphics have also been designed specifically for the Fan transmissions, which, reportedly, have been well received by French subscribers.

HBS will produce approximately 4,104 hours over four Ligue 1 seasons and has created a data bank for rightsholders, who will have access to 30 minutes of unused pictures for each game.