Crawford-Hosted DVIDS Brings Troops Into Broadcasts Worldwide

Almost every American sports fan has watched a member of the U.S. military deployed overseas say hello to his mom during a televised sporting event, but few of those fans are familiar with the logistics involved in creating that seven-second hello. Crawford Communications, a Broadcast Facilities Inc. company, houses the U.S. military’s Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), which is responsible for providing those interview opportunities, as well as a host of other links between the global media and the military.

“We provide a connection between the U.S. Department of Defense and media outlets worldwide,” says Zehra Mehdi-Barlas, media relations manager for Crawford Communications. “We work directly with deployed service members and military journalists to get real-time video, photos, news, and interviews straight from the combat zone, sharing the stories of our troops with a wide variety of outlets and audiences.”

DVIDS comprises a network of 106 portable Ku-band transmitters located within the deployed military units and a central distribution hub at Crawford’s headquarters in Atlanta. In addition to placing media that is produced worldwide, DVIDS also carries live news conferences, pitches story ideas, and does the soldier-to-stadium greetings and soldier-to-family interviews that sports fans often see during big games.

“We link the American people to their military men and women in many different ways,” says Mehdi-Barlas. “Our sports greetings program connects the troops with hundreds of thousands of fans every year. You name any team, and chances are, we have done a stadium greeting for them.”

When networks are interested in producing shows from overseas, as Fox Sports did with its pre-game show from Afghanistan last season, those networks work with DVIDS. DVIDS finds out whether the location has the required dish capabilities to transmit the show, sets up the mobile-production unit, and handles much of the logistics.

In addition to the media-distribution services, DVIDS provides training classes, staffing, analysis, and Web support from the Crawford facility. A 24/7 DVIDS media desk, editing team, and technical operations crew are staffed within the Crawford facility, and media specialists are assigned to each deployed unit.

DVIDS has a number of projects planned for the upcoming World Cup, including having soldiers wish good luck to the U.S. team as well as enabling members of the military to ask questions of their favorite players.