USOptimum Offers Improved Coverage to the World

From Algeria to Zimbabwe, more than 75 countries around the world are tuning into this year’s US Open tennis tournament, and, thanks to an enhanced production with a new name, they are receiving better coverage than ever. USOptimum (formerly called World Integrated Feed) is a conglomeration of the US Open world feeds being produced for each of the five televised courts, plus additional content provided by a dedicated USOptimum staff and player interviews conducted by CBS, ESPN, and Tennis Channel.

Six years ago, the integrated world feed drew mostly from just two of the show courts — Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium — and, between matches, showed only a wide shot with a “coming up” graphic. Then USTA officials decided to create an integrated show that broadcasters around the world could take. They wanted the show to look more like a network show that broadcasters are accustomed to seeing at tennis Grand Slams, and the World Integrated Feed was born.

Now it’s called USOptimum. “We decided it needed a sexier name,” explains Steve Gorsuch, director of broadcast operations for USTA. “For the second straight year, it’s going to a lot more places than we originally intended the show to go. A lot of broadcasters said, we don’t have time to take five court feeds and create our own show, so we’ll just use yours. And it’s worked really well.”

Recognized the World Over
USOptimum is being broadcast far more than Gorsuch had imagined: by 46 countries in Africa,15 countries in the Middle East,11 in Asia, and five in Oceania. That popularity is a direct result of the quality of the show.

“The goal is to show the best tennis that is happening on the grounds at all times,” explains Executive Producer Brian Williams. “We’re on the air from the first ball every day to the last ball every night. We choose an anchor match that we’re on each day, but we try not to miss any critical points on the show courts. If there’s a tie break on Court 11 and it’s 4-1 in our anchor match, we’ll bounce out there to catch that tie break and then get back into that anchor match.”

Williams’s hard-working staff remains on duty from first serve to last point, maneuvering viewers among the world feeds produced for each of the five televised courts (Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand, Court 11, and Court 13). English commentary is provided for Ashe and Armstrong, but a host announcer and analyst are called on to call matches on 11, 13, and Grandstand if the USOptimum show chooses to put those courts on-air.

On the Fly (Pack)
USOptimum is produced from an office inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, with a flypack of equipment provided by All Mobile Video. The system is anchored by a Sony switcher and two Pesa routers, the Cheetah HD and DRS audio router. USOptimum also has access to two Chyron graphics engines and two EVS servers, which allow Williams’s team to showcase a great point on tape-delay if the team cannot get away from the anchor match in time to show it live.

“We try to do as much as possible live,” says Williams. “We either cover it live or record it and play it back when we can get away.”

Every year, the show adds more elements, from new cameras like jibs and the FlyCam, to a second EVS, to the title USOptimum graphic used to brand this year’s show.

“We’re constantly trying to add to our production facilities to make it a better show,” Williams says.

Eyes Everywhere
In total, USOptimum has access to 21 game cameras, in addition to a blimp camera, the overhead FlyCam system, and roof cameras for beauty shots.

“There’s really nothing on the grounds that we can’t see,” Williams points out. “We’re also recording everything from ESPN, Tennis Channel, and CBS, so we can work player interviews and personality shots into the broadcast as well.”

Between matches, USOptimum shows scores and key highlights of other matches and promotes what is coming up later. A rotating announce team ensures that a host is always available to provide English-language commentary behind the images.

“It’s much like what you would see on Tennis Channel, ESPN, or CBS,” Williams says, “but it’s for the world.”

And in greater numbers than ever, the world is appreciating it.

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