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 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.
- ABC and ESPN will split coverage of the games in the United States. XM Satellite Radio will also broadcast the World Cup in English and Spanish.
- The BBC has launched the UK’s first HD trial to digital terrestrial television sets in partnership with rival broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Five. The BBC will broadcast all its World Cup games live on broadband. The stream will carry the same commentary as the Corporation’s over-air broadcasts. The Beeb will be restricting the service to licence fee payers in the UK however.
- The CBC, will have all 64 World Cup matches live and in high definition.
- CNN International has secured the rights to air daily match highlights from the World Cup. The broadcaster also plans to air regular reports from around Germany over the course of the month-long tournament.
- Univision has Spanish-language rights and will participate in several aggressive cross-platform ventures planned between TV and the internet. Univision is covering every day of the World Cup like Fox or CBS would the Super Bowl. The network will have pre- and post-game programming, the games themselves, and primetime replays every night, using three television channels to meet the expectations of a soccer-demanding viewership.
- GlobeCast has been selected by Sky Italia to provide HDTV contribution for the World Cup of Football to Sky’s headquarters outside of Milan, Italy. A redundant solution includes both fibre and satellite contribution to ensure a seamless broadcast.
- Singapore’s StarHub will launch a public trial of HDTV beginning on June 10th. They will carry a live telecast of all 64, 2006 FIFA World Cup matches in full HDTV.
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.
- The WorldCup is expected to jumpstart Mobile TV. In France, cellco SFR has the rights to offer four minutes of video material of every match as well as post-match coverage. In Italy, 3 has acquired DVB-H rights for the World Cup, and plans to launch its Walk TV platform at the start of June. In the UK, 3’s sister company has licensed non-exclusive mobile broadcast rights in the UK and Ireland for all 64 matches.
- T-Mobile will stream 20 World Cup soccer games to customers with 3G phones. “We will be the only operator to stream 20 matches live to cell phones,” said Ren Obermann, a board member of the Deutsche Telekom and chairman of T-Mobile International. The German DVB-H trial was initiated by four German mobile operators, using Nokia N92 phones.
- Mobile ESPN (right) probably has the most comprehensive sports service, as a virtual network operator, although it’s unclear how much WorldCup there will be on the service. Mobile ESPN delivers news, scores, stats, and headlines from the Mother ship of ESPN and ESPN-2.
- Verizon’s V-Cast, Sprint PowerVision and Cingular Video are expected to have some on-demand clips from various suppliers. Sprint TV Live is unique in that their channels show exactly what’s being shown on TV at the moment. MobiTV has surpassed 1 million subscribers. Cingular Video works only on Cingular’s two 3G phones, the Samsung SGH-ZX10 and the LG CU320 while Verizon’s GetItNow Service has no live TV channels, radio or movies.
- Univision’s web site provides instant wireless alerts along with streaming video, photo galleries and insider event coverage using technology from Proteus. The network also signed an agreement with Verizon wireless to provide video clips and instant updates.
- “World Cup Mobile” is a downloadable application with match results, standings, World Cup statistics and news 24 hours a day. Football fans can view team rosters, stadium portraits and rich historical material supplemented with illustrative images. World Cup 2006 for PDA is also available.
- Nokia has a Java application (right) for their mobiles. Yahoo World Cup On Your Mobile and Google News for mobile devices are available at no cost. Yahoo! Mobile Matchcast, for Java enabled phones, has realtime stats and highlights. Joga is an online community created by Google and Nike with mobile.nikefootball.com their cell version.
- “World Soccer 2006″ Web pack from Bellevue-based Webaroo is a compilation of top soccer Web pages allowing people to access information — player statistics, team profiles, soccer blogs, etc. — without being connected to the Internet.
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.
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, Soccer365.com, USsoccer.com, Google News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo’s World Cup Videos, Yahoo Full Coverage and Wired.