With the 2017 tennis season now underway, the Telstra Broadcast Services team have been busily working behind the scenes to ensure the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) series of tournaments are a smash hit.
Next time you watch a women’s tennis tournament, there is every chance that Telstra has had a hand in sharing the live tennis action from the court to your screen. In 2017 we have already worked on five Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tournaments which include the Brisbane International, Shenzhen Open, the ASB Classic in Auckland, Apia International Sydney and the Hobart International. We also now have Field Operations teams on the ground in St Petersburg and Taipei to continue to support the year-long rolling WTA schedule.
Telstra’s involvement with WTA is the result of successfully securing a six year multi-million dollar deal – our largest media broadcast contract since Telstra Broadcast Services was established – with international sports content distributor Perform Group for the delivery of a global media network solution. This means that coverage of 47 global WTA tournaments in 2017 will traverse our world class network of global submarine fibre cables, four satellite teleports, and broadcast operations centres in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States to Perform Group’s diverse points of presence around the globe. Perform will then share the content with rights holders for broadcast.
In a first for women’s tennis, Telstra’s network will also deliver multiple simultaneous live feeds – sometimes up to 24 feeds at a time – from concurrent WTA tournaments, enabling audiences to view greater amounts of high-quality live tennis content than in previous tournament years.
But before the live tennis content is delivered on our network, there is a lot do on the ground. As the Head of Field Operations for Telstra Broadcast Services, my role is to oversee all of our broadcast project delivery activity around the world. Planning for an event of WTA’s global scale is a step-change for Telstra Broadcast Services, and the Field Operations team starts planning for the WTA events long before the first serve.
To deliver the WTA solution we built six customer-specific fly away kits which are being sent to each of the geographically diverse WTA tournament locations around the world. Fly away kits are our portable production units containing encoders, monitoring and multiplex equipment to create a multichannel transport stream – or in non-broadcaster speak, to simultaneously transmit multiple court feeds to our global media network for delivery to Perform’s diverse points of presence.
At each event our Field Engineers arrive several days in advance to set up and rigorously test our fly away kit and network. The Telstra Field Operations team monitors the feeds throughout the event, until the last match and the winning game. We then dismantle the equipment and prepare the kit for the next tournament location. Throughout the set-up, testing and the live broadcasts, the Field Operations team is supported by the Telstra Network and Broadcast Operations teams located around the world.
So for the next six years the Telstra Broadcast Team will be travelling from Sydney to St. Petersburg, Auckland to Acapulco, New Haven to Nanchang to name a few. We will be visiting every region across the world that Telstra operates in, and many where we don’t yet have a permanent presence and we’ll be sure to bring you an on-the-ground update from an exotic WTA tournament location soon.