Euro 2008 Semi-Final Plagued By 17 Minutes Of TV Transmission Issues

technical-difficulties.gifFootball fans around the world must have cursing their TV sets Wednesday night when the TV transmission was interrupted three separate times during key moments in the thrilling Euro 2008 semi-final between Germany and Turkey.

UEFA is investigating the situation to find out what happened, but it appears that a thunderstorm is blamed for the interruptions. Neverthless, the damage has already been done. UEFA will have to do everything it can to prevent similar embarrassing incidents from happening in the future.

While the interruptions in transmission appeared to happen around the world, this is how the technical difficulties occurred while watching the game on ESPN in the United States:

  • At minute 57:15, the screen went black. ESPN quickly changed the video to show live coverage of the Fan Zone in Basel where mostly German fans congregated. ESPN commentator Derek Rae handled the situation very calmly and professionally before handing the reins back to Rece Davis in the ESPN studio. Davis and pundits Julie Foudy and Tommy Smyth then proceeded to go through the motions and repeat everything they had said almost verbatim from the half-time show including showing the same video footage.
  • After almost seven minutes without coverage, the live game feed on ESPN returned at minute 64:10.
  • At minute 76:26, ESPN lost the live TV feed again. This was at a crucial moment in the game and it was unfortunate that viewers around the world missed Miroslav Klose’s goal for Germany in the 79th minute to make it 2-1. The bad fortune for ESPN (and broadcasters around the world) was compounded when the interruption in TV feeds missed Turkey’s equalizer in the 86th minute. When ESPN’s live feed returned, at minute 86:34, viewers saw the Turks celebrating Senturk’s goal.
  • ESPN was lucky with the third and final goal for Germany when Philip Lahm scored in the 90th minute. At minute 90:32, ESPN lost the TV feed yet again but returned shortly afterwards to show that the game had just finished with scenes of the German players and fans celebrating.

Overall, ESPN was unable to show more than 17 minutes of live TV football coverage because of the technical problems suffered by UEFA. ESPN and broadcasters worldwide were terribly fortunate that the winning goal of the match was shown. If that one had gone in the net during the timespan when UEFA had lost the TV transmission, there would have been riots in the streets.

Please share your stories about what happened and how your TV network handled the technical difficulties by clicking the comments link below.

21 thoughts on “Euro 2008 Semi-Final Plagued By 17 Minutes Of TV Transmission Issues”

  1. That would be Bayern 3 – Turkey 2 if you are scoring at home.

    I was an ESPN viewer, so same as you gaffer. I was watching on the TIVO though, so I could skip the studio crap.

  2. If there was anything funny about that, I enjoyed Derek Rae trying to pretend like nothing was wrong and ad-libbing at the beginning of the loss of signal.

  3. if you already haven’t viewed the replay then you absolutely must. it his hilarious watching rae and especially gray fiddle about and try to keep the results of the game a secret until the end. obviously they didn’t get a chance to do commentary when the signal was out so they did commentary later during the replay. it was so funny watching as they they tried to build up and “foreshadow” the big moments in the game because they already know what, when and by whom the plays would occur! lol.

  4. I can’t fault Rae and Gray for doing what had to be an impossible job.

    This is going to sound like a rediculous analogy, but it’s almost like what happens when (and again I preface this by saying this is going to sound rediculous) professional wrestling does live to tape programming and then not even 24 hours later are in a studio doing retakes. You can tell when it’s been done but you know there is nothing that can be done about it. At least Rae and Gray tried, which in this situation is all I ask of my presenters.

    What gets me is why there wasn’t a secondary production truck at the stadium. Not a full production, but just enough basic camera shots to get through a situation like this. I know the chances of it being used are slim to none, but when your main feed is all the way in Vienna and events there are dictating what happens, doomsday scenarios possibly happen. Unfortunately, that’s what happened tonight.

  5. According to published reports, the weather problem occurred at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) in Vienna, Austria, not at the stadium in Basel.

    The IBC in Vienna lost power after a lightning strike.

    As a result, outbound video feeds originating from the IBC, including the “international” video feed, which contains “natural sound” on one audio channel and generic English-language commentary by a solo announcer on the other audio channel (used by TSN and Rogers Sportsnet in Canada among others) were cut.

  6. Like Johnathan Staring said, at least a backup broadcast truck for gd sake! It the ehfing Euro! Poor planning UEFA for your first time handling broadcasting.

  7. You guys should consider yourself lucky. Watching the live game from this part of the world (Malaysia, Southeast Asia) means staying up from 2.45am till 5.00am and then straight heading to work at 8.00am.

    We’ve got our fair share of 17 minutes black-out. The local TV station at first was clueless with what to do and opt to broadcast Euro 2008 logo on the screen with message underneath apologising for the interruption.

    After a minute or two they revert back to our local commentators in the studio who at first seems to be unprepared with the sudden ‘live session’ (after all it was around 4 am and i bet those lads are sleepy like me too). As in any sport program they started to go through the highlights in the 1st half with the similar script they had during the halftime break.

    Fortunately enough the TV station rely on some radio broadcast and the in-house commentator started announcing goals by Klose and Senturk.

    Live feed resumed on time for Lahm’s goal. And as the rest of the world, it went blank again.

    Few minutes later the in-house commentator then announced the game has ended and Germany will be going to Vienna.

    All in all, I stayed from 2.45am till 5.00am to missed the crucial final third of what have been one of the most thrilling Euro 2008 game to date.

  8. Here in India,with ESPN being the broadcaster it was handled very well too by the host,John Dykes and the guests in the studio who would have to scamper back.
    At first I thought it was some problem with ESPN India but then as confirmed by the presenter it was a worldwide blackout.I was sure that this would create a furor everywhere but nothing major has been reported(yet).
    Unlike you guys,after Lahm scored the third for Germany we didn’t get any clips of German fans but after full time the clip showing fan zone in Basel,I guess.
    UEFA should sort this out.It would be a disaster if it repeats during the finals.Especially at crunch times like the last 5minutes of the game.

  9. at some point here in the states, during the first interruption, they did in fact rebroadcast the halftime analysis… it wasn’t repeating what they’d said, they just repeated the whole ‘axis cam’ business verbatim. we checked.

  10. I watcbed the replay at 5pm on ESPN Classic. I noticed there was a glitch in the video and audio and then it was back to normal. I just figured there was a satallite problem and they got it fixed. I am glad that I decided to watch the 5pm airing then watch the live airing that I recorded on my DVR.

    Bum deal to everyone that missed out on the 17 minutes of the game…………………………..

  11. ESPN India is operated by NewsCorp/ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) in Singapore, not by Disney/ESPN, Inc. in the U.S.

    Despite the “ESPN” brand name, ESPN India’s corporate sister networks in the U.S. are actually the FOX Sports networks.

    Host Broadcast Services (HBS) provided a “re-feed” to broadcasters worldwide immediately after the match was over, allowing broadcasters such as ESPN, Inc. to “patch” the original broadcast so that the re-airs would appear “seamless”.

  12. Right, anonymous. Forgot that. Murdoch actually owns the ESPN that is on air in India.

    BTW, I’ve got a bunch of transfer rumors airing on tomorrow’s American Soccer Show involving Yanks on CSRN is anyone’s interested. Some may surprise you- PL clubs seem more interested in Americans than ever before.

  13. Anonymous you are wrong. “ESPN India” is part of “ESPN Star Sports” just like “Star Sports India” is part of “ESPN Star Sports”. “ESPN Star Sports” is a joint venture owned and operated 50% by “Star Sports” or “News Corp” and 50% by “ESPN, Inc.” or “Disney”.

  14. kartik so are you admitting to being from india? if you knew about the espn in india, you must just have admitted that you have roots from india.

  15. It was hugely frustrating. I can’t believe UEFA didn’t have backups in place for this. The world missing 2 goals in a Euro semi simply can’t happen.

    (Derek Rae is a decent commentator. But I’ll be happy when Tommy Smyth disappears.)

  16. > Anonymous you are wrong. “ESPN India” is part of “ESPN Star Sports” just like “Star Sports India” is part of “ESPN Star Sports”. “ESPN Star Sports” is a joint venture owned and operated 50% by “Star Sports” or “News Corp” and 50% by “ESPN, Inc.” or “Disney”.

    While Disney/ESPN, Inc. has a 50% equity stake in ESPN STAR Sports Limited (ESS), NewsCorp has been the MANAGING PARTNER of ESS since 1997.

    All the ESS managers in Singapore are NewsCorp/STAR TV employees, not Disney/ESPN employees.

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