The current financial impasse across Europe is afflicting many of its broadcasters, some of whom are struggling with a potential knock-on effect on production values for Champions League coverage, according to sports marketing agency Television Event And Media Marketing, writes Adrian Pennington.
“The financial situation is quite tricky for organisations who pay 90% of their total budgets for TV rights and maybe leave 10% for TV production costs,” said Markus Hövel, Head of TV Operations, TEAM Marketing, which sells all commercial rights on behalf of UEFA for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
“Once they get into financial difficulty they may struggle to pay the rights fees and as a result the production budget is at risk of getting cut. The key message from us is that the production of Champions League matches remains, and must remain, very high but it needs individual support from our side,” added Hövel.
“We see rights holders who have perhaps been very competitive before in their territory now joining forces with each other to share costs and to work together.”
One means by which rights holders can extend the reach of their UEFA soccer rights is to tap the vast reserves of rich video content stretching back to the mid-1990s. An archive containing every UCL and UEL match as well as highlights compilations, interviews and ISOs is being readied for a full launch next summer.
Much of this catalogue is already available for remote access but soon all of it will have been digitised. UEFA deserve credit for their investment in its archive, which will be linked to a comprehensive statistics and metadata stream.
“UEFA’s production unit is developing a Digital Video Library whose goal is to combine UCL with UEL matches for fully file-based remote access,” says Hövel. “We still hold quite a few hours on tape but from 2012 everything will be tapeless. It means smaller rights holding broadcasters can get up and running with content to build highlights and promotional packages all year round.”
TEAM also defines host broadcasting guidelines and standards and trains and guides new rights holders who have to produce UCL or UEL matches for the first time.
“We have previously had to support broadcasters in East European countries simply because they didn’t have the appropriate standard of outside broadcast equipment. Now, however, some of those territories are more advanced in terms of coverage than their west European counterparts,” said Hövel.
“Before the start of the season we prepare a production manual which specifies minimum camera requirements and production standards. It is important that we understand our rights holders and what they need for their unilateral programming, as well as helping them appreciate the requirements for the world feed.
“We don’t just pass them a manual and say get on with it. We talk with them daily and if necessary pass on contact details of suppliers such as OB companies. At some challenging venues, where rights holders can’t afford to produce matches on a high quality level, we sometimes take over productions on behalf of UEFA or we even provide technical support.
“It is important that we understand our rights holders and what they need for their unilateral programming, as well as helping them appreciate the requirements for the world feed.”