Barça TV is the official television station of FC Barcelona, and serves as the primary source of club information and entertainment. Covering all aspects of the FC Barcelona team, the station focuses on games, an array of events where the club plays a leading role, as well as its training school dedicated to molding the stars of future.
The face of Barcelona football
Though a relatively small channel, Barça TV is the electronic face of one of the most prestigious teams in international football, a team followed by legions of fans and ancillary viewers not just in Barcelona, but around the world. It is managed by MediaPro, and broadcasts on a 24-hour cycle, with 5 of those hours featuring in-house programming.
With a staff of 80 contributors, the operation exerts exceptional influence in the sports community. It is the only TV channel, for example, that can access the club's private training sessions, create content based on their activities, and make that material available to other stations.
Extensive operational overhaul
In 2008, the channel launched an extensive media makeover with an overhaul of its entire production operation, moving from an environment based on DVCAM tape to one built on a completely digital array of Avid creative and media management solutions.
Unitechnic, a systems integrator that designs, develops and executes turn-key projects for leading broadcast organizations in Spain, was brought in to spearhead the initial advisory and consultancy efforts, then continue onward through the integration, installation and maintenance phases. Working closely with both FC Barcelona team and MediaPro, Unitechnic acquired a solid understanding of the project requirements, helped to develop design parameters, and provided the channel with the installation expertise necessary to help orchestrate the project implementation.
To meet the FC Barcelona and MediaPro requirements, Unitechnic recommended starting at the core of the system with Avid ISIS 7000 shared storage. “We needed to give editors a place to house their media,” says Martinez, “then extend that capability with Interplay and its sophisticated search and retrieval functions.”
From there, AirSpeed units for ingest and playout, an iNEWS solution for newsroom control, NewsCutter editors, and two Avid Motion Graphics solutions were added.
Keeping Barça TV at the top of its game
“When Barça TV transitioned to digital,” says Unitechnic Technical Manager Iván Martínez, “Avid solutions were not only chosen for their quality, reliability and ease of use, but the flexibility, content access, and creative capabilities necessary to keep Barça TV at the top of its game.”
Avid solutions were not only chosen for their quality, reliability and ease of use, but the flexibility, content access, and creative capabilities necessary to keep Barça TV at the top of its game.
IVÁN MARTÍNEZ, TECHNICAL MANAGER, UNITECHNIC
Today, the digital system lets contributors access, retrieve, and edit media, then send content either to air or digital archive in a fraction of the time it took before. It has become the channel’s digital “kitchen,” where processes that used to be done manually are now automated, letting journalists and writers concentrate on the quality of the creative work as they produce all the material the channel needs on a daily basis.
Currently, Unitechnic is helping enable the channel to convert media generated for broadcast distribution into appropriate formats for delivery to a variety of online, mobile, and social platforms.
“Our new tapeless environment has allowed us to not only create much better content, but gain lot of time,” says Xavi Fontova, Audiovisual Operations Supervisor. “Whatever content we need is always available to us. This greatly reduces the length and complexity of our production cycles, which means we can create more content for any given program, and distribute it to a variety of platforms.”
Restructuring the way the channel works has been truly revolutionary,” says David Puig, Content Director. “Using our new asset management capabilities, we can prepare scripts, create voiceovers and edit all our material in order to turn it into news stories, documentaries, promos, music videos, and so on. It’s that big database, that huge archive of information that provides us with all the videos and assets we need to turn us into ‘TV demigods’.”
According to David, the possibilities going forward are virtually endless. Current coverage, including live broadcasts of Barça youth matches in every category, historic FC Barcelona games, and specific programs centered around the team’s behind-the-scenes activities, is only destined to expand in the days ahead. But everyone at the channel is aware that the production and media management capabilities recently acquired from Avid will give Barça TV all the capabilities it needs to address any challenges may arise in that process.
“Making the transition to a fully tapeless environment has let the channel do much more with the same number of people, “David enthuses. “In fact, we have not had to lay off a single person. In both qualitative and quantitative terms, this has been the kind of advance that will take us confidently into the future, no matter where that path may lead.”