Brazil’s SporTV Revs Up Massive World Cup Effort

When the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off next week, it will mark the end of more than two years of planning for Globosat’s SporTV of Brazil and the beginning of 24/7 coverage on one of its three channels and plenty of additional coverage on the other two. Powering the efforts will be a team of more than 600 staffers and freelancers, who will give Brazilian viewers deep coverage of much more than just the home team and live coverage of all matches.

“We are a sports channel, and we have to have a wide look at the event,” says Raul Costa Jr., director of sports for SporTV. “It’s important to show the Brazilian people all of the national teams, so we will have a reporter with all 32 national teams and reporters in 12 countries outside of Brazil. It’s very important to have two-way coverage.”

Delivering first-class coverage for the nation’s most-watched pay-TV sports service takes an immense army of gear and personnel: eight OB vans (four owned by Globosat, three from TV Globo, and one from RBS, the TV Globo affiliate in Rio Grande Do Sul), 27 SNG vehicles from Casablanca, 68 reporters around the world (many outfitted with Sony PMWEX3 and PMW200 cameras and LIVEU cellular-transmission packs), and a first-class studio on the small island of Ilha Fiscal in the Bahía de Guanabara. The 81-sq.-meter studio is enclosed within a massive glass soccer ball.

“It is a better backdrop than Copacabana [where many broadcasters will be located], and I love Copacabana,” says Costa of the studio. “Ilha Fiscal offers a postcard of the best scenery, and, as a guy that lives in Rio, I can say it is more beautiful than you can imagine. It is also very important to Brazil’s history.”

Costa and his team obviously have an insider’s perspective on the challenges of working in Brazil, and, while many who will be working in Brazil for the first time find it difficult, he and his team understand what it takes to succeed.

‘Plan, Plan, Plan’
“The biggest challenge working in Brazil is [the need for] good planning and logistics support,” he says. “We had our coverage plan two years ago and then adapted it. But it is important to plan, plan, and plan. In most countries, it is very important to have good planning, but, here in Brazil, it is most important.”

Part of that planning also meant committing in a big way to the wealth of services offered by HBS. For example, rather than send an OB van to Manaus, nearly 2,000 miles from Rio, HBS services will be used.

“HBS makes things much easier,” says Costa. “They have very good servicing, and they are perfect for us.”

Given that Globo’s broadcast facility is located less than five miles from the World Cup IBC, the broadcaster will have only a small presence of 25 personnel there to receive special data and also interface with the FIFA MAX server, which will host all of the content created by HBS. An EVS server at SporTV’s facility will build highlights, and a Hitachi server will record 28 feeds (18 from the IBC, 10 from the SNG and LIVEU units used by SporTV) for news editing and temporary storage. Adobe Premiere is the editing platform of choice.

“We also will have a small set there because some important people might walk in there or visit the operation,” Costa notes.

He adds that the biggest challenge is not technical but, rather, to explain to Brazilian viewers the importance of the event to those outside Brazil as well as to provide timely news and information.

Battling for World Cup viewers in Brazil will be competitive, with Rede Globo, Band, SporTV, ESPN, Bandsports, and Fox Sports broadcasting matches and plenty of related news.

But Costa isn’t concerned. “The difference in ratings is the quality of the product and not only if the rights were exclusive.”

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