Industry Insight: Visiting Eurovision Media Services, Geneva

Eurovision, so much more than a song contest!

Written by: Cedric Zimmer

When you hear the word Eurovision, you think of the song contest, right? But what else do they do? Up until this visit, I would have answered the same as you: I have no idea.

Finding the Eurovision building is your first challenge, and I think this was by design, they are behind what you see on TV, but you don't see them. I have lived in Geneva for 12 years and I have probably walked past this place 100 times without even noticing it. From the road, it doesn’t exactly jump out at you; one of our alumni got a bit lost getting there and asked a passerby for directions – both were unaware they were within eyesight of the building.

The visit started off with a presentation done by our own Shannon Williams (class 21) and some key members of the leadership team, quickly shattering our perception that they only did a yearly song contest. In broad terms, Eurovision Media Services (its full name) is the business arm of the European Broadcasting Union – the world's leading alliance of public service media, representing 73 members in 56 countries in Europe and an additional 33 associates in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas.

Eurovision Media Services is who sports federations and media organizations around the world turn to for content production, distribution and broadcast services. Concretely, this means major sports and news events, including the world's biggest football match and the recent visit of Pope Francis to Geneva.

After the presentation and a short Q&A, we were escorted to the Eurovision Master Control Room. It’s the nerve center of the organization where the feeds from all of the different events that Eurovision is covering are handled. To give you an idea of the sheer scale of this room, on one wall are about 20 large screens, each of which is subdivided into 8–16 more screens, and each of those is one feed. If you tried to pay attention to all the feeds at once, you’d have a nervous breakdown; I’ve seen screens on stock exchange trading floors that have less visual information than the ones I saw here. I stood there and tried to make sense of how someone could monitor all these feeds. It turns out you don’t actually look at those screens, you look at another one (of course) that has green lines that seem to crisscross in a kind of map. If one of those lines goes red, you guessed it, there’s a problem.

So, how does this all work together? The answer is best illustrated with two examples:


Major sports events: For example, the upcoming European Championships – an inaugural event taking place in Glasgow and Berlin from 2 to 12 August 2018. For this event, Eurovision Media Services acts as the host broadcaster – managing the overall production for the event. It also manages the distribution of content to rightsholding organizations and provides other digital services. Essentially, they're like the middleman between the sports federations and the media organizations.


Breaking news coverage: Let's say there’s a developing story happening now in Paris. There will be a sea of reporters jockeying for the best backdrop and setup to make their news report from. At events like this, Eurovision Media Services offers broadcast services, such as studios, stand-up facilities and more – to enable media organizations to quickly send their reporters onsite to capture the story without any hassle. In this case, they may offer a great location with a back-drop of the Eiffel Tower and provide equipment onsite as well as access to the Eurovision Global Network (satellite, fiber and IP) to

distribute the content.  I would really like to thank the Simonites for organizing this event, specifically Marc Heggemann and Shannon Williams.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch a sports game or major media event without seeing the behind the scenes work involved in getting all of that content to my TV or mobile device.





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"It was a very informative and well prepared event! In particular, it was nice to see the business leaders of Eurovision Media Services making themselves available for an open discussion with the Simonites. It was fascinating to learn more about their business model and it was easy to connect the discussion with what we learned back at ROBE e.g. the revenue and costs flows, marketing mix, value proposition, resources and channels, customer segments (B2B), etc. Having that high level understanding of their business model and the connecting that to the knowledge we gained from ROBE, I had the confidence to share some ideas of new revenue streams that they could consider. The point being that, their business model needs to also evolve with changing technologies in the market. I greatly enjoyed seeing the Master Control Room and I hope that our discussions together were beneficial to them as well." -- Mario Feliciano