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BBC Sport on the Preparations for Euro 2020 With a New Look VR Studio and a Logistical Headache

14/06/2021

BBC Sport on the preparations for Euro 2020 with a new look VR studio and a logistical headache By Heather McLean, Editor

Friday, June 11, 2021 - 08:25

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Wembley Stadium being prepped for Euro 2020 by BBC Sport's Phil Bigwood, executive producer football

UEFA Euro 2020 is finally upon BBC Sport, one year late, and despite the action kicking off in just a few hours, many parts of the production are still a moveable feast thanks to ever-changing COVID restrictions. The broadcaster, however, is ready and is even launching a new look for all of its football programming at Euro 2020 with a new 360-degree virtual reality (VR) studio set.

On how the run up to Euro 2020 has gone so far for the British incumbent, executive producer football at BBC Sport, Phil Bigwood, tell SVG Europe: I think it's probably fair to say this is the most difficult and challenging event I've overseen.

I've looked after the major football tournaments [at BBC Sport] for nearly 20 years now and done every one over that time, so I think my colleagues and I know a lot about broadcasts, but I've never had one quite like this, for all the obvious reasons with COVID.

There's a lot that really going to the wire, last minute; even this week we're getting announcements around what we can do in and around stadiums and what the travel plans are. So the logistical planning side of it has been a huge challenge and it continues to be a challenge, but we're getting there.

Bigwood adds: Whether it be UEFA or any of our partners, I think we all recognise it's quite a difficult [event compared to before 2020], so everybody's working together to try and deliver it in the best way we can.

BBC Sport is launching a new look for all its football programmes with a 360 degree VR studio set at Euro 2020

Strong start for the home nations

England, Scotland and Wales' opening games are exclusively live on BBC Sport. The opening game, Turkey v Italy, in Rome on Friday 11 June is the first of 25 live matches across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.

That is followed by Wales v Switzerland on 12 June, England v Croatia on 13 June and Scotland v Czech Republic and Spain v Sweden on 14 June, giving BBC Sport audiences the first opportunity to see all the home nations who qualified in action.

We've built a 360 degree virtual reality (VR) studio. We've got a new set and a whole new set up. So whether we're on the road or whether we're in Salford, the aspiration is that everything will have a similar look and feel and branding.

Working with ITV Sport, the BBC will also have first and second pick of the games at the last 16 and quarter-final stages. So we start really strong with all the three home nations, says Bigwood. But what comes with that is all the planning. The [current] plan is to present onsite for the England game and for the Scotland game. Obviously because Wales are in Bakku, that's a whole different challenge. What we've decided to do is send a commentary team out to Bakku, and that is our one commentary team that's traveling. Everything else will be done back in Salford or onsite in Glasgow and Wembley.

All the core BBC Sport editorial and production team will be based in Salford, utilising the studio there at dock10. Yet even though BBC Sport is sending a minimum of crew around and outside the UK, it is still not easy. Bigwood says that with BBC Sport's IBC for Euro 2020 in Haarlem, just outside of Amsterdam, a crew from BBC Sport left the UK two weeks ago to go through quarantine measures to get to the broadcast hub for the build up to the start of Euro 2020. However, it had been touch and go as to whether the team would even be allowed into the country.

Bigwood comments: A few weeks ago with everything that's going on in the UK at the moment with COVID, and because of the respective rules around the different countries, we weren't sure whether staff would even be allowed into the Netherlands. But as of [Tuesday 8 June] we had the signal up from there into the BBC base in Salford. So that key component of our operation is looking good.

Preparing for Euro 2020 has been a complicated task for BBC Sport, but Phil Bigwood says, we're getting there

Location, location, location

On BBC Sport's crews moving from location to location, plans have been made, changed, and are still hanging in the balance, says Bigwood. The other things that got considered were that any people we do send overseas have then got to do all of the restrictions and quarantining on the way back. Now some countries like Germany have effectively banned all UK citizens going into the country, so for the likes of the games in Munich we've got to approach [those matches] differently. And all of that is happening very late in the day. So whether it's flights or hotels, you know, we would typically have that sort of thing in place many, many months before.

Only last week we were able to confirm certain facilities. I know UEFA has the same issues. So we're all facing similar challenges

Our OB supplier for this event is Timeline TV, so way back two years ago now we did have aspirations to present a lot more on site at some of the bigger games, but obviously we've had to change that, he continues. So it's just the uncertainty of where we can put the facilities, as you'd appreciate with a tournament of this size; the number of freelancers and people we work with and trying to do the right thing by everybody, and at the same time, not really having definite confirmation of what we can do and where we can send people.

That's been the biggest challenge, continues Bigwood. Only last week we were able to confirm certain facilities. I know UEFA has the same issues; they've
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/bbc-sport-on-the-preparations...
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