Bexel Returns to US Open for 15th Year Backing CBS, Fifth with ESPN

Bexel marked its fifth year supporting ESPN, and its 15th year backing CBS, at the US Open Tennis Championships, the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam. The two-week tournament was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.

“It was probably the smoothest we’ve done in terms of overall operation,” says Johnny Pastor, director of technical services for Bexel. “There weren’t many changes from last year, although the international presence continues to grow with additional positions to support ESPN Brazil and ESPN Argentina. We’ve settled into the tournament, and we’re able to dial in the needs of ESPN as well as support CBS, the host broadcaster.”

Bexel provided a full HD control room for ESPN and two full HD control rooms for CBS’s international feeds. The ESPN and CBS facilities at the USTA compound consisted of five interconnected, double-stacked trailers. All of the equipment for ESPN was installed on the second story, which required piece-by-piece deliveries via forklift. “It was a very challenging load in and loud out,” Pastor notes.

“We also had very little storage space for the equipment we brought onsite,” he adds. “Fortunately, this year we were able to store many items in our Secaucus, New Jersey office, which recently opened. Being able to send the cases and equipment we didn’t need back to Secaucus early on made for a much more efficient experience.”

ESPN acted as the hub for incoming content for all of the ESPN networks, which consisted of on-court action from the numerous matches at the start of the tournament to the more intense rivalries from the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Every feed from every match was recorded and ingested into 22 EVS XT3 production servers with six logging stations; all of the mobile units were connected to the server network via fiber. Three Media Manager Stations equipped with nine EVS XFile2s determined media distribution to Avid Unity shared storage and other entities.

Content from the matches was utilized in various ways by the broadcasters. ESPN deployed highlight stations to cut the feeds for its own use; provided some content to ESPN News; fed ESPN International’s control room for live feeds to Mexico and South America; and supplied digital files to the Tennis Channel.

To help meet these diverse needs Bexel installed four Avid Symphony Nitris DX and three Avid Nitris DX edit rooms for ESPN and the Tennis Channel. Bexel supported three working, and one spare, VIZRT graphics workstations integrated into the ESPN facility.

Pastor reports that “increased use of a MADI digital stream for audio made things flow much more easily this year. It streamlined the process of routing signals back and forth both in our internal structure and in the external structure of the mobile units and other US Open entities.”

New this year at the US Open were two Lawo mc²56 compact, powerful mixing consoles supplied by Bexel to CBS. “They delivered full broadcast-quality audio out of the control rooms for CBS’s international feeds,” Pastor explains.

Bexel also had about 12 engineers and staff on site supporting the event for its full run. “With load in August 12 and strike four weeks later the US Open is one of the longer duration sporting events on our calendar,” says Pastor.