There may be 5, 10 or even 15,000 people in the stands.
Add the fans watching the same match on their TV, computer, tablet or smartphone, and that makes hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
It’s absolutely fascinating to take a closer look at the broadcasting infrastructures behind the National Bank Open (NBO) in Montréal and Toronto.
There are about 260 people working to deliver visual content around the world. Of them, about 50 work for local broadcaster TVA Sports and about 60 for Sportsnet. National broadcasters rely on the ATP feed and add content produced by their teams on site.
In the Heart of the Action
If the commentators seem to have really great seats, that’s because they do.
Whether it’s TVA Sports just a stone’s throw from the two main courts or Sportsnet and Tennis Channel on the platforms in Parc Jarry, they’re right in the middle of the action and always stay dry when it rains.
Their tents are actually mini studios. In addition to the presenters and analysts you see, there are people in charge of production, statistics, cameras (two people) and hair and make-up.
The pros you see on the air provide viewers with information and conduct interviews with their colleagues on site and even 400 kilometres away at the WTA tournament in Toronto.
And when they’re not on the air, they’re always checking their phones for news until they go live.
There are three teams on duty in Montréal:
Frédérique Guay and former NBO tournament director Richard Legendre for TVA Sports.
Danielle Michaud, Sharon Fichman (Canadian tennis pro) and Robert Bettauer (former pro) for Sportsnet.
Dani Klupenger and Pakrash Armitraj for Tennis Channel.
Perched in the Stands
Their commentator colleagues sit at the very top of Centre Court, often for four or five hours straight. With the help of statisticians, they provide the play-by-play.
On breaks, they scrape together something to eat. They also have to be prepared for the strong winds that sometimes blow (like they did this week) when you’re so high up.
Just ask Félix Séguin and Marie-Ève Pelletier at TVA Sports or Jimmy Arias and Rob Faulds at Sportsnet.
Control Rooms on Wheels
And that’s only the tip of the TV broadcast iceberg. Inside the trailers, more than a dozen people direct traffic under the leadership of the executive producer and director.
Below is a peek into the Sportsnet broadcasting truck.
To give you a good idea of the magnitude of the task, here are the two sections of TVA Sports’ mobile unit, which is identical to Sportsnet’s.
A Village of Trucks
What’s most striking for ticket holders who enter through the south gates of IGA Stadium is all the trucks. It’s literally a village made up of the ATP broadcasting teams and huge mobile units that operate for TVA Sports and Sportsnet (turquoise, at the top of the picture).
Here’s the map of this hive of technicians and another view of the impressive broadcasting centre. (The blue star is where I took the previous picture).
When you go behind the scenes of an international tournament and see what it takes to get the action onto your screen, you never see a match, and all it entails, the same way again.