The America’s Cup sailing race is the oldest trophy in international sport, dating back to 1851. And for the 35th edition, presented by Louis Vuitton, the location was Bermuda, as the event moved to the iconic Great Sound.
Local Bermuda Broadcasting Company (BBC) was appointed as the official broadcast partner, and they responded by creating an advanced fibre network between the America’s Cup Village at the Royal Naval Dockyard, the transmission, editing and news gathering hub, and their own studio back at base.
They did this via a BroaMan advanced fibre network – this has not only enabled them to provide viewers and listeners with live coverage of all the racing over the five weeks via terrestrial TV and radio broadcasts over IP but also to feed its web and social media platforms. This has included taking video and commentaries out on the water, from helicopters overhead and on shore.
BBC constructed this by deploying a powerful pair of BroaMan Mux22 interfaces which connect the 35km distance between the two locations via a single duplex fibre. These hardware enablers allow them to provide connectivity of six video signals (4 HD-SDI In / 2-Out), 4 Line In / 4 Line Out, 4 GPIO (with IC444 board) plus a 100Mbit LAN switch, RS485 and 1Gb Ethernet.
Patrick Singleton, CEO of Bermuda Broadcasting, admits his company’s appointment by the America’s Cup organisers had forced a substantial upgrade at the station, including new TV and radio transmitters, high-speed fibre-optic systems and a fully digital workflow. “The America’s Cup is the greatest sporting event in Bermuda’s history, and we are pleased to have been able to present this in beautiful, high definition.”
But this looked unlikely when last year a lightning strike damaged their playout and destroyed sensitive MCR automation equipment ahead of the Summer Olympics. Having competed in three Olympic Games himself, and now on the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, he was quick to act. “We handle a lot of live sports and so we developed a mobile application to show this important sporting event, but that didn’t solve the problem of terrestrial broadcasting,” he explained.
When seeking the optimum solution for the America’s Cup coverage Singleton became aware of the BroaMan platform, and its vast potential, after reading an interview with their MD, Tine Helmle on SVG Group’s online resource. In it she discussed fibre solutions for professional broadcast. “Especially interesting for us was the fact that BroaMan had supplied a solution for the World Rowing Championships and I could see they were especially good at delivering sporting events. I wanted to create a remote broadcast facility at one end of our country and operate from a master control back at base … and BroaMan seemed like the perfect solution,” he stated.
The ‘rock solid’ fibre network was co-designed with UK-based consultant engineer Mark Johnson from TTFN TV, with the aid of their new transmitters. An earlier concept of a wireless and microwave technology solution was dismissed due to interference and the threat of large ship masts cutting the point to point link.
Further expansion of BBC’s remote mobile facility included the acquisition of a LiveU LU500 video field unit for OB transmission, while the purchase of IP switchers has been a further benefit in the broadcasters’ systematic upgrade.
Mark Johnson was unequivocal about the role played by BroaMan in the success of this year’s America’s Cup. “Their fibre solution has just fixed so many problems, it was like the genie out the bottle,” he said. “As hardware enabling components, BroaMan provided the equipment in one neat box at each end — enabling us to do everything we wanted whereas previously it would have required half a dozen. It was such a neat solution.”