Canford panels integral to the successful broadcast of Euro 2020 tournament

Canford PR 2022

Gravity Media, a leading global provider of complex live broadcast facilities and production services to content owners, creators and distributors, utilised Canford manufactured termination panels and custom racking throughout its Euro 2020 Technical Operation Centres (TOC), broadcasting the tournament to an estimated live audience of 4.7 billion. 

Canford has manufactured and supplied critical broadcast solutions for decades. Established in 1976, the company is regarded throughout the global broadcast industry as ‘the supplier of choice’ for custom metalwork, fibre termination, breakout, and interconnect solutions.

Based in Washington, Tyne & Wear, UK, Canford has amassed an unrivalled level of experience over its 45-years. The company has a reputation for high-quality, precision-made product. This has seen an increasing number of leading providers of complex live sports broadcast, facilities and production services turning to Canford manufacturing for robust and reliable, mission-critical components.

One such company is long-standing Canford customer Gravity Media. Gravity Media supplies high-quality production facilities and project management support for large-scale live and near-live events, locally or on location anywhere in the world. Whether it’s a single venue or multi-site broadcast, Gravity Media’s comprehensive solutions include designing, building and integrating International Broadcast Centres, Master Control Rooms, Technical Operation Centres (TOC), Commentary Control Rooms, Production Control Rooms and Media Centres.

Gravity Media supplied eleven TOCs, distributed over nine European countries for the recent Euro 2020 tournament.

Simon Nicholls, Gravity Media’s Director of Engineering in the UK explains more about the role of Technical Operation Centres: “Traditionally in big events such as the Euros, World Cup, Olympics etc, every signal that would go to or come from a Venue would do so via the TOC. It’s the Venue gateway and how signals travel between it and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC). The IBC is a dedicated temporary facility that hosts the Main Host broadcaster and any broadcast partner (BBC, ITV, ZDF, etc) who may have a presence there. Generally speaking, all program outputs are sent to the rest of the world from the IBC and this is the final piece in the transmission puzzle.

The TOC plays an important role, where signals are monitored for technical QC but also distributed to broadcast partners who may also like to broadcast from a Venue (BBC and ITV at Wembley for example). Essentially any broadcast of a Euros football match will have been through a Gravity TOC and thusly through a Canford termination panel!”

Canford has supported Gravity Media for many years. Engineering teams have established a collaborative approach to designing custom solutions, drawing on the substantial experience within both companies. Euro 2020 was no exception. In addition to Canford Termination Panels, there was a custom requirement.

Gavin Drake, Canford Production Manager – Portland explains: “On this occasion, the specialist involvement from Canford Portland was a requirement to design and manufacture a fleet of robust, fully welded 42U equipment racks. Initially required for Euro 2020, these ‘Transport Proof’ racks would eventually be incorporated in other Gravity Media projects.

Canford design engineers spent time on-site with Gravity Media to facilitate the development and ultimately to approve a prototype. The resulting racks had to be strong enough to protect expensive kit during international transit and movement on-site.

The process moved at pace thanks to the experienced we’d gained on an earlier project. Canford had manufactured ‘The Beast’ – a bespoke product that not only provided a means of transporting and protecting sophisticated routing technology, but also incorporated patching for rapid termination and on-site set-up by Gravity Media engineers.

All design aspects were carefully considered. What might appear to be small details can make a big difference - such as doorway clearance and specifying wheels suitable for all anticipated terrain.

COVID disrupted the tournament, eventually delaying it until 2021 but Canford was able to keep going throughout the entire lockdown and delivered the finished racks well ahead of kick-off.”

Testament to Gravity Media’s experience in handling major live event broadcasts and to the professionalism of its skilled team, the entire Euro 2020 tournament was broadcast without a single TOC related on-air glitch. That was 51 matches with eighteen feeds per match, including the Live Stadium Feed (LSF) – also known as the ‘world feed’.

In total, Euro 2020 matches were shown by over 130 global broadcast partners, present in over 200 territories around the world, with an estimated total live event audience of 4.7 billion during the tournament.

An average of 100 million live television viewers were expected to tune in to each match, with nearly 300 million expected to watch the final live. Throughout the tournament, the host broadcast team were expected to produce a total of 3,500 hours of content.

An estimated 44 million UK viewers tuned in to see the final – Ok, so we all know the result of that one…….

Commenting on Canford’s involvement, Nicholls added: “Canford move mountains for us when we need it. It is nice to be in a position where we can thank you and your hardworking team for making big projects like this come alive.”

Gravity Media’s work at the Euro 2020 finals was nothing short of astounding. Tournament stats give some understanding of the sheer scale and complexities of the project:

  • 11 TOC’s delivered to 9 European countries, 12 actually built. That’s 60 x 42RU racks prepped and tested.
  • 70km of Belden 1855 in the TOC rigs and looms alone, this doesn’t include special cams.
  • 38,000 Neutrik 1855 BNC ends.
  • 45km of Draka (3G) Green Looms. 983 individually cut, labelled, and ended. That’s 11796 x Neutrik 1694 BNC crimps alone.
  • 13.6km of Draka Blue 10 way audio. 275 individually cut, labelled and ends soldered. That’s 5500 x XLR ends prepped and ended.
  • 58.1km of Cat6 cable. 1771 individually cut and ended by venue teams. That’s 3542 x Cat6 ends crimped onsite. 

That’s a very impressive 180,700m of cable in total across the whole project.