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Live from 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup: Fox Sports' Kevin Callahan Discusses The Evolution of the Jewel Event Fly Pack


Live from 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup: Fox Sports' Kevin Callahan Discusses The Evolution of the Jewel Event Fly Pack By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Sunday, August 6, 2023 - 4:41 pm

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The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup has entered the Quarterfinals stage and for everyone involved it signals the end of a long run of long days, a quick day off to reflect and reset, and now focus on the end of the tournament. Kevin Callahan, Fox Sports, VP, Field Operations and Engineering, says things have been going well for Fox Sports, which has match control rooms on site for a Women's World Cup for the first time since 2015 in Vancouver. The team is also continuing to build, along with FIFA and HBS, on new workflows deployed in Qatar.

When we were in Qatar what everybody was doing was a science experiment and I think now that science experiment is over, says Callahan. We've gone from bleeding edge to cutting edge. We're still doing things most people aren't doing and we've taken the next steps and adding features rather than just adding to the bug list.

The Fox Sports IBC team has been dialed in on match coverage and much more.

The Fox Sports production team at the IBC plays a key role in nearly every aspect of the effort, as the two match control rooms are where everything comes together: the FIFA and HBS match production, graphics, commentary, and much more.

All of the matches go there, regardless of where the announcers are, says Callahan. Whether they are on site or calling off tube it comes here for Fox Box integration and final integration with the studio programming going to and from halftime and the end of the game.

The IBC also is home to the core engineering team and the media management team and the remote operations center where all the feeds, both inbound and outbound, are managed.

Monitoring all incoming FIFA World Cup feeds is a big part of life at the IBC for Fox Sports and other rights holders.

We're recording all of the feeds coming from FIFA and HBS, whether it be a watch-party feed, an additional content feed or ISO feed, says Callahan. We want to be able to get all of the content that they are producing and show it to viewers at home.

Jewel Event System: Third Time's the Charm

The Women's World Cup is the third event where the Fox Sports Jewel Event system is in use. First used at the 2022 FIFA Men's World Cup and then at Super Bowl LVII, the system leverages IP and SMPTE ST 2110 technology in 20 racks of equipment from TAG Video Systems and EVS which are pre-cabled and configured before folding down in half for shipping via air from the U.S. There are two in use in Sydney, one at the IBC at Sydney Olympic Park and one at the technical operations center for the studio shows at Campbell's Cove.

This is really our third deployment of the Jewel Event system, and we've been able to fine tune things based off of the learning experiences we have had, says Callahan. We're able to use it to how we expected to use it, with all of the features that we had hoped for when we were designing the system.

The improvements did not require new gear but rather new updates from EVS, TAG Systems, Arista, and Calrec. And that involved a lot of testing as well testing as the goal is to minimize risks as much as possible.

When you have the words Jewel Event' in the name of the system you, generally speaking, are going to be risk averse, so we needed things to be tested and resilient, he adds.

New features include the ability to do a lot of additional monitoring, including seeing what sources are going where and making sure all the redundancies are in place for an IP-based system.

We also now have 2022-7 redundancy so there is more resiliency between Sydney and Los Angeles, he explains. And now that we have had it set up for 30 days in a row, we're able to really take advantage of that.

The benefits of the Jewel event system begin with setting up at the IBC as Callahan says the team was able to cut a week in set up.

By the time we get to the Euros next year we will be able to cut another week, says Callahan. We just need to do a lot of leg work ahead of time in terms of programming in order to make that a reality.

Another improvement to the Jewel event system is that the digital team, which also has its own set on Campbell Cove, is now tied into it.

We knew that they were going to be part of us, and we don't have to bolt them on or think about them as an afterthought as they're designed into the Jewel system, says Callahan. The digital team can access all the same feeds so that shows like World Cup Now, which is a personality-driven show, has access to all the same content.

Also helping in connecting everyone is the use of Arista switching gear as Arista is provider of the core networking environment.

The Arista 7508 switch router is our core 2110 switch, and we are also using one of their newest items, the 710P compact series switches, says Callahan. It's a nice fanless switch that we're able to deploy in various rooms as a true edge switch. It's deployed just about everywhere, in our match control rooms, on each of the stages, at researcher positions, and in the Vault in Pico. The 710p supports PTP which is a key for an IP broadcast environment

Callahan says that leveraging tools for advanced monitoring has been a big help as it obviates the days of walking into the IBC and learning that the power supply has been out, or the international circuits are down.

We have a lot of advanced alerting and monitoring between Telstra and our media broadcast team so that when something's out we can react quickly, he says. Knock on wood we haven't had any on-air implications.

At The Venues

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