EBU Tackles Colossal Transmission Task at Vancouver Games

With more than 10,000 hours of footage shown on television, the Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games presented a tremendous challenge for the 90-person team of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Operational group working in service of 2,500 representatives of European Radio and TV. The EBU produced, transported and distributed six multilateral programes in Europe, enabling European broadcasters to directly receive the entirety of the events and competitions in Vancouver. These six programmes were distributed simultaneously in HD and SD. The EBU Employed two fiber-optic loops, with an additional backup by satellite for transmission of the Games.

“The EBU is not only expert in transmissions, but in host broadcasting on important events, as well technical, operational, logistical services on behalf of broadcasters,” says Francis Cloiseau, Head of Sports Events. “We do it all: from production onsite to booking and information services and to producing multilateral programs. The coordination made by the EBU Sport Operations Group for all EBU members gave us a fantastic challenge but also a fantastic opportunity to work with our entire catalogue of services. That was very rewarding.”

The EBU also distributed the Olympic News Channel, a 24/7 news and highlights programe, produced by the host broadcaster to all of Europe. Twenty three European broadcasters’ exclusive signals, together with occasional unilateral signals, were also transported by the EBU.

Apart from its function as a transmission operator, the EBU also fulfilled its normal function for the Olympic Games: technical and logistical coordinator for all the European broadcasters; technical arrangements and cabling for the 10,000 square meters of space in the International Broadcast Centre and the Mountain Broadcast Centre; installation of a Master Control Room managing all of the incoming or outgoing signals; processing the 700 commentator circuits for EBU members; booking all the services provided to broadcasters; and supplying logistical services for member broadcasters.

The EBU’s Sports Rights Unit managed the contractual elements related to its agreements with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games could be viewed in all countries of the EBU, not only through television and radio, but also through multimedia platforms. On the internet, viewers could watch their national channel or the coverage provided by other EBU rights-holding members through a platform set-up by the EBU, the Common Broadband platform both in SD and in HD, a first. More than 35 nations’ broadcasters shared their footage throughout the territory.

“The EBU and its members ensured an unprecedented coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” says Marc Jörg, Head of Sports Rights Unit. “We demonstrated the strength of our Union not only with the television and radio coverage which were already exceptional but also with regard to Broadband coverage. Viewers throughout Europe could see not only their own national coverage but also the coverage proposed by all the other public televisions in Europe, and even in HD. It is the first time this has ever been done and we are proud to have made this possible.”