ESPN taps Cisco to kick up its World Cup coverage

Cisco's TelePresence technology to fuel World Cup coverage

There are only 21 days left before the first kick at 2010 [[xref:http://www.fifa.com/]] in South Africa. But as millions of fans from across the globe wait in anticipation for that first goal to be scored, behind the scene host broadcaster ESPN of Bristol, CT., is figuring out new ways of showing the soccer crazed masses those goals as well as the goal scorers.

ESPN markets itself as the "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" and since its inception back in 1979 it has put fan innovation before profit. At the recently concluded [[xref:http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/news.asp?id=57639]] conference in Las Vegas Chuck Pagano, executive vice president of technology and operations at ESPN said technology played a major role in the cable channel's growth by enabling it to push the bounds of the content. Examples include the sailor cam for the [[xref:http://www.americascup.com/]] yachting race and the first-and-ten marker during NFL broadcasts.

It is this overarching commitment to deliver more for the viewer that brought ESPN to [[xref:http://www.cisco.com/]] ([[xref:http://www.nasdaq.com/aspx/infoquotes.aspx?symbol=CSCO&selected=CSCO)|Page Not Found]].

ESPN will be using [[xref:http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/CDN/News.asp?id=45015]] to connect the soccer game to the global soccer community.

Rob Hunter, ESPN vice president for innovation, said he has been working with Cisco for two years and the networking giant has come up with a solution that solved a difficult communications problem specific to the remote South African region. "We have six satellite trucks and 17 electronic news gathering (ENG) crews so its more than likely someone will have to wait while someone else is talking," he said.

South Africa, because of its location in the world, presents a challenge for ESPN to provide the resources to remote locals such as the city of Port Elizabeth, which is hosting a few World Cup matches. Cost is another factor. "There would be huge expenses if we wanted to have communication from Port Elizabeth right to Mandela Square (in the Sandton suburb of Johannesburg) to the city of Cape Town for three-way conversation. The meter starts when we roll out those trucks," Hunter added.

Port Elizabeth and Cape Town are hundreds of kilometres from the International Broadcast Centre in Johannesburg and TelePresence will act as a virtual studio for ESPN during the month long tournament. The content from TelePresence activities will be converted to video files and posted on ESPN's soccer specific Web site [[xref:http://www.soccernet.com/]].

[[xref:http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/CDN/News.asp?id=11395]], president of Cisco Emerging Markets and former worldwide channel chief, said the cost savings by using TelePresence is up to $25,000 per interview over previous broadcast techniques.

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Paolo Del Nibletto

ITBusiness.ca
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