Live From Pan Am Games: Aldea Transmits Competition Coverage From Toronto to the Americas
The Pan Am Games, now in their second week, have defied local naysayers and proved to be immensely popular in Canada, drawing record numbers to competition venues around Toronto. They’re proving equally popular on television, with CBC expanding its coverage to fulfill demand.
Behind the scenes, Montreal-based Aldea is keeping busy, providing a full range of production and transmission services for the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and various broadcasters covering the 17-day event.
Aldea is currently handling international-transmission services for six broadcast-rights holders within the IBC, including major TV networks in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. Viewers in several other Latin American countries are receiving signals that have a production or transmission component provided by Aldea.
“For each client, we provide a fully custom solution based on their specific transmission requirements,” says Aldea CEO Lionel Bentolila. “This includes fiber transport, video encoding and decoding, data, intercom, etc. … This is provided as fully turnkey solutions originating from the IBC and delivered at the clients’ main studio locations in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Buenos Aires — all on high-capacity dual and redundant fiber.”
The company is also providing a premium standup position in downtown Toronto for any broadcaster looking for a skyline backdrop. The position, located next to the Pan American Village, is connected via fiber to Aldea’s International Fiber Network.
In addition, Aldea is providing production services for handball, gymnastics, archery, and weightlifting and connects the Oshawa Sports Centre (weightlifting) and Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto (archery) to the IBC.
With 20-30 staffers onsite, as well as additional staff in Montreal, Aldea provides ENG crews, office space, and playouts to both rightsholders and non-rightsholders.
“We have our controlling and monitoring center [in Montreal. From there], we can actually control the entire network and verify that everything is working fine,” says Bentolila. “For us, the fact that the event is in Toronto makes it a little bit easier: we can turn around people more easily because they’re just one hour away on a flight.
“The setup, the way we do it,” he continues, “is exactly the same whether the event is in Beijing or in London or like we did the World Cup in South Africa five years ago. It’s the same setup; it just makes it easier for us.”
The effort for the Pan Am Games continues a busy spring and summer for the Aldea team, which provided transmission services for the FIFA Women’s World Cup (Canada), Copa America (Chile), European Games (Baku, Azerbaijan), and French Open, among others.
“The company is well-geared to do different events, whether they’re big like a World Cup, medium like the Pan American Games or Copa America, [or] something smaller,” says Bentolila. “It’s a very reliable solution in terms of equipment, fiber, redundancy, onsite personnel that are qualified. [They] understand exactly how to make it all work in the complexity of [clients’ wanting] to transmit something from Toronto to Brazil with all the bells and whistles that you need for such a big event.”
After the Games conclude, Aldea will set its sights on a larger multisport Games — in Rio. “We’re already working on the  Olympics,” says Bentolila. “Last year, for the [FIFA Men’s] World Cup, we did a lot of services [in Brazil] for a lot of clients worldwide. It’s a country where Aldea has been operating since 2005, so we know it quite well. We’re pretty much home there.”