RTL Deutschland scores ratings win with Vizrt-powered international football coverage

RTL Deutschland uses Vizrt's Viz Arena and Viz Virtual Studio to create on-field and sideline graphics during live broadcasts of the German national team matches.

When Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, one of Germany’s leading media companies, acquired the rights to the country’s international football matches it needed to find new ways to satisfy a predicted growth in viewing figures. Turning to content production systems specialist Vizrt, the broadcaster was able to deliver a more creative way of broadcasting the matches with higher production quality and more interest for the viewers.

Building a strong audience share

Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland is one of the leading media companies in Germany. Its channel roster is made up of free-to-air (FTA) channels – including RTL Television, VOX, n-tv and RTL NITRO - and a number of special-interest stations.

In 2013 the commercial broadcaster picked up the rights to the German national team’s football coverage which included qualifying matches for both Euro 2016 and the World Cup 2018. With Germany having won the most recent World Cup in Brazil, interest in football in the country has exploded and viewing figures for the matches broadcast to date have rocketed. The first game achieved a 34 percent audience share – an impressive result for the first football match broadcast by RTL in many years.

Smarter and more efficient workflows

To produce a more creative and immersive broadcast for audiences, RTL turned to Vizrt for its new graphics workflow. The suite of tools included Viz Arena, Viz Virtual Studio, Viz Trio, Viz Artist, and Viz Libero, and was supported by Viz Engine, Vizrt’s real-time 3D compositor. This workflow has helped the commercial broadcaster attract the strong audience share that it had anticipated when it acquired the rights. ‘We recognised that viewing figures would increase quickly so we had to deliver a captivating broadcast. This was where Vizrt came in,” said Matthias Bolhöfer, spokesperson of RTL.

Having been a customer of Vizrt since 2009, RTL was already well acquainted with the performance of its products and has been impressed with the new Vizrt graphics workflow that has been deployed. ‘We were very pleased with the outcome of the first game and the possibilities that the Vizrt solutions provide us’ added Bolhöfer. ‘After this promising start we are looking forward to embedding the different analysis tools from Vizrt even more to break down and explain the key moments of the game for the viewers at home.’

Flexibility and creative storytelling

As part of RTL’s requirements, it needed a solution to give it the space to generate and apply live-game enhancements and analytical graphic components without having to install additional mechanical tracking heads. Both Viz Arena and Viz Virtual Studio were integrated to allow RTL to generate virtual graphics. Viz Arena’s image–based tracking system allows for new live-game enhancements and analytical graphic components to be implemented. Viz Arena was linked to three cameras within the stadium, one main and two used for offsides, as well as a Viz Virtual Studio camera on an Egripment crane with Trackmen tracking. The Egripment crane was moved from the pitch to the studio so that Viz Virtual Studio could be implemented in RTL’s mobile studio as well as on the field as an interview camera.

As audiences watch the matches, the graphic visualisations of scores, player statistics and tables need to engage the viewers without any disruption to the live transmission. Vizrt’s live graphics and video control system and character generator (CG), Viz Trio, allows RTL to deliver these components on-screen easily and can be automated or driven manually.

The in-stadium studio is one of the most identifiable parts of the broadcast and making sure studio activity is united with the on-field play is an important element for RTL. Viz Engine turns one of the studio’s walls into a window on to the stadium below, rendering graphics and video for a number of screens which make up the video wall.

Viewer expectations continue to grow as sports coverage becomes more immersive. RTL uses a mixture of 3D animations, computer-generated sets and virtual enhancements to push its football coverage to the forefront of creative sports broadcasting. Any upgrade in RTL’s workflow needed to be done without a huge amount of hardware installation. The inclusion of both Viz Artist and Viz Libero into RTL’s workflow allows its designers to build all the graphic components needed to look realistic, perform with precision and more importantly give viewers unprecedented insight into the live sports scenes.

Being able to offer all of these creative and innovative ways of broadcasting football is hugely important to RTL to ensure that interest not only in football, but in its own coverage, is maintained.

Fueling ambition

“RTL/CBC’s sports production activities continue to get bigger and add more production values to attract fans and keep them tuned in to the game at home,” said Dr. Stephan Würmlin Stadler, executive vice president of sports at Vizrt. “We are honoured and excited to be working with them on this major football project and will continue to support their advanced production workflows in the future.”

The combination of these state-of-the-art technology solutions enables both RTL and CBC to cover the world champion’s games in the most creative way possible. The result was so effective that RTL have decided to continue using its advanced workflow not just for the Euro and World Cup qualifiers, but also for the rest of the national team’s upcoming games. Vizrt’s integrated toolset ensures that Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland’s workflows are smarter, more efficient and innovative.

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