World Cup 2006

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Occurring only once every four years, the FIFA World Cup is the world’s largest sporting event and is expected to attract the world’s largest television audience. The 32-day soccor contest (schedule) kicks off Friday with an opening game between Germany and Costa Rica. A cumulative 5 billion people are expected to watch at least some of the games throughout the month-long event.

The World Cup (WikiPedia) runs 32 days, from June 9 through July 9, with 64 matches in 12 stadiums throughout Germany (QT-VRs & Google Map). Current world champion, Brazil, will be defending its cup from the 32 different nationalities gathered together in Germany.

In the four years since the last World Cup, the popularity of broadband and cellular has skyrocketed while HDTV growth, particularly in Japan and the United States, is booming.

The 2006 World Cup is – itself – a logistical record-breaker. The complex voice and data networking, the production of global television and the cellular engineering could be said to be as notable and heroic as the action on the field.

More than 180 broadcasters worldwide will broadcast the official video and audio “pool feed” being produced exclusively by Host Broadcast Services (HBS) for FIFA.

The World Cup will be beamed around the world by PanAmSat. Yahoo has video clips while the BBC will broadcast all its World Cup games live on broadband. Google has a score widget for your browser.

The voice and data network deployed by Avaya is the largest converged communication network ever built for a sporting event. An estimated 45,000 network connections, 30,000 network devices and over 15 terabytes of data will tie the different venues together. It will support player and journalist accreditation, results reporting, materials tracking, ticketing and transportation as well as support wireless data transfers, including digital photos by photojournalists.

Avaya did not release the cost of the network, but spokeswoman Deb Kline said the company has spent $100 million on its sponsorships of men’s and women’s world soccer since 2001, including the current operation in Germany.

The RFID embedded tickets will have the name, address, birth date, nationality and ID card/passport number of all fans in the 12 different stadiums. The country is worried that something could go wrong, terribly wrong, as it did in 1972 when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, explains PC World. Each of the 3.5 million tickets have an embedded RFID chip with identification information that will be checked in real-time against a database as fans pass through entrance gates at all 12 stadiums.

The new Allianz Arena in Munich can change colours and its shape through innovations like a multi-panel roof. All the stadiums are equipped with special cameras to record biometric facial features of suspected troublemakers. Another special group, the Central Sports Intelligence Unit, in Neuss near Düsseldorf, is receiving thousands of tips from authorities in nations competing in the World Cup.

The International Broadcasting Centre in Munich will be the nerve centre for the thousands of journalists, camera operators and technicians. HBS will use a minimum of 20 HDTV cameras at each match.

Euro1080 uses Modulus Video MPEG-4 AVC Encoders for World Cup coverage via satellite. Premiere in Germany, TPS in France, Sky Italia in Italy, Canal Digital in the Nordic and the BBC will all be broadcasting games in HD. ESPN HD, ABC HD and ESPN2 HD will combine to present live coverage of all 64 matches. Comcast will add ESPN2 HD, the High Definition simulcast of ESPN2, in several markets beginning Friday, June 9th.

Host Broadcast Services (HBS) designed, build and supplied the 12 Technical Operations Centres (TOCs), one for each of the 12 venues. Each controls the signal flow at the venue. Some broadcasters will employ their own production services, parked alongside the World Cup stadium venues.

PanAmSat will be using as many as 40 paths across nine satellites: PAS-1R, PAS-2, PAS-3R, PAS-4, PAS-8, PAS-9, PAS-12, Galaxy 3C and Galaxy 4R to deliver standard-definition and high-definition channels of World Cup coverage. GlobeCast will also provide HD satellite coverage as a backup for the event, using capacity on Eutelsat’s Eurobird 3 satellite at 33º East.

More than 180 broadcasters worldwide will broadcast the official video and audio “pool feed”. Regional broadcasters will be able to produce supplemental programming to tailor their coverage locally.

A World Cup toolbar (below) receives news on matches, scores and highlights delivered to a browser as a ticker, a Firefox extension has the latest soccer scores and Yahoo has SMS alerts.

The small screen is big at the World Cup. Andrew Corp designed, supplied, and installed cellular enhancements in nine of the 12 stadiums and in metro rail systems in several of the German host cities. Most major operators in Germany contracted these systems to ensure enough network capacity to enable the approximately 40,000 to 60,000 visitors per game to call a friend, upload photos or download highlights from other games.

Host Broadcast Services (above) will offer highlight clips specifically made for mobile by using a so-called “pan-and-scan” technology. This involves zooming into the high-definition feed to obtain a closer picture of the ball and the player for the tiny screens on mobile.

Mobile tv demonstrations using DVB-H will be available through four German mobile operators. Samsung provided T-DMB phones to Debitel, one of Germany’s largest cellular operators. DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting- Handheld) generally time-slices mobile television signals on VHF/UHF and 1.6 GHz channels while T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) can use Digital Audio Broadcasting.

Analysts believe the mobile television market could be worth $300m over the course of the tournament. Informa Telecoms & Media predicts football fans will lead the charge to mobile television. In five years’ time, one in 10 mobiles is expected to carry a broadcast receiver. Informa predicts Nokia-backed DVB-H, will sell in the region of 63 million mobile telly devices, with MediaFLO next in line with sales of 14.5 million.

Google Earth can fly you there right now, free. Check out the venues. You can also try out 3-D, using the 3B Soccer World Cup 2006, a Web3D environment that you can walk through and interact with. You must download their (free) 3D browser first.

A slew of 15 major global brands – including Coca-Cola, Deutsche-Telekom, Adidas, Nike, MasterCard, Philips and Yahoo – have started debuting their soccer-related ads.

The official partners of the World Cup are spending an estimated $30 million to $50 million on sponsoring the games. Since sports are live events, fans are less likely to TiVo the programming, and it gives advertisers an uninterrupted platform through which they can communicate to their target audiences. Media Life talked with media experts about the World Cup. Advertisers are customizing their ads to different countries but with the same message, with the help of technology.

Additional coverage is available at ABC News, BBC, The CBC, CBS Sportsline, Der Spiegel (English), ESPN Soccernet, FIFA World Cup Blog, The Guardian, Fox Sports, NY Times Blog, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, ESPN Soccernet,,, Google News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo’s World Cup Videos, Yahoo Full Coverage and Wired.

Related DailyWireless articles include Olympics Unwired and City Clouds: Becoming The World Cup.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, June 8th, 2006 at 4:01 pm .

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