Thomson, Panasonic key EuroSport HD launch

By Kevin Hilton

Eurosport is building on the launch of its high definition channel in May by signing a Europe-wide deal with Panasonic to promote both the new service and the technology. As Official HD Partner Panasonic is supplying HPX2100 and HVX201 P2 camcorders for the broadcaster’s coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Eurosport HD is a simulcast of the channel’s standard definition transmission and involves what is claimed to be the biggest HD storage area network supplied by Thomson’s Systems Solutions division.

The Grass Valley K2 SAN is formed from K2 media server systems installed at Eurosport’s play-out centre in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, and cost more than $3 million. The HD SAN receives satellite and fibre inputs coming into the broadcast complex and then plays out material for transmission.

This involves 44 Grass Valley video server channels, running in SD and HD, with 1000 hours of on-line storage, and six individual K2 servers. In turn these are connected to an archive using IBM hardware and Front Porch Digital software.

Eurosport HD went on air in time for the broadcaster’s coverage of the French Open from Roland Garros, followed by Euro 2008 and the U.S. Open, with the Olympics in August. Eurosport joins the already high number of broadcasters set to use Panasonic P2 camcorders during the Games but the deal is also intended to encourage the move to HD in the home.

“The sports channel is setting trends in broadcasting, just as Panasonic’s Veira flat-panel HDTVs are setting standards in the consumer electronics industry,” says David Nicholls, general manager of Panasonic Europe’s TV Group.

Jacques Raynaud, vice chairman of Eurosport Group, comments, “We share a common vision. We aim to deliver a new dimension in sports to viewers in as many HDTV-equipped homes as possible and in as many countries where Eurosport is broadcast, to 112 million homes and 59 territories across Europe.”

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