CBS Sports Digital boosts studio production operations with revamped facilities in Ft. Lauderdale, Stamford

In addition to CBS Sports HQ and football streaming, the new studios serve CBS linear broadcasts

As CBS Sports and CBS Sports Digital continue to grow their combined portfolio of live sports programming, both organizations are looking for new ways to effectively share studio and control room resources. With that in mind, CBS Sports Digital has relaunched its studios in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Stamford, Connecticut in time for the 2022 fall soccer season and the Italian soccer season with major technological upgrades to the sets and control rooms.

CBS Sports Digital Studios in Ft. Lauderdale and Stamford have relaunched with new LED walls ahead of the NFL season.

“We were watching [studio operations] from a much higher level, not only our streaming shows, but also CBS Sports, football shows and everything in the CBS family,” says Aaron Gillespie, Director, Engineering, CBS Sports Digital. “And we wanted to build facilities that would not only serve us today, but also be able to change and adapt in the future.”

In addition to 24/7 live studio programming at CBS Sports headquarters, the facilities also play a large role in the broadcast of the UEFA Champions League, Serie A and other international club soccer on CBS Sports and Paramount+. Upgrades at both studios created a parallel setup across Ft. Lauderdale and Stamford locations for a consistent look for Series A productions, CBS Sports HQ, Fantasy football today, SportsLine programming, as well as CBS Sports HQ Spotlight, which airs on CBS Sports Network.

“From a linear perspective, we saw a great opportunity to collaborate and bring streaming and linear teams together,” says Mike Francis, Vice President, Engineering and Technology, CBS Sports. “We don’t have the footprint for additional studio space here at the CBS Broadcast Center and BMW Building [in New York City]. Being able to have a reusable facility that we can use has been great for the line production teams while also creating a better streaming product.”

Inside the studio: LED wall with Three-Curves offers flexibility, quality

With a three-curve LED wall on set and a flexible control room design, the two nearly identical studios can seamlessly transition from one show to the next in a matter of minutes.

“The beauty of these facilities is that we can mix and match,” says Gillespie. “We can play football in the morning, CBS Sports HQ in the afternoon, more football right after that and then highlights for HQ or other groups in the evening. Because it’s LED with minimal sets, you can go from one show to another with the flip of a switch.”

CBS Sports HQ Spotlight anchor Amanda Guerra on the new set (Photo: Mary Kouw/CBS)

With a 35-million-pixel, 1.8-DPI LED wall, CBS Sports HQ and other broadcasts can create a higher-quality studio design that matches the level of CBS and CBS Sports Network linear programming.

The studio is equipped with five Sony HCP-P50 cameras with Canon CJ15ex4.3B, CJ17ex6.2B and CJ20ex5B lenses; three Ross Video CamBot robotic camera pedestals; one Egripment TDT crane; and one ARRI Artemis 2 camera stabilizer with Vislink wireless Tx/Rx and RCP control.

513 Partner/Principal Tom Lentz was engaged to design the studio, and system integration was done in-house, led by CBS Sports Digital Lead System Administrator Keith Pryor. Other key suppliers include Fuse and DetailLED Solutions for the LED panels and Showman Fabricators for kit manufacturing.

“After we went through rehearsals for the first time with graphics, it didn’t have the feel we were looking for,” Gillespie recounts. “But because of the flexibility of the LED wall, within a week the graphics team built a completely new look for the set, giving it a completely different feel. Within two weeks, we had gone through three or four iterations of different looks on the set; it would have taken us months to change in the past. There was no paint color change or gear change; it’s just that the graphics group designed it and made the change almost instantly.

In the control room: Serving large and small live productions

The control room is built around a Ross Ultrix Accuity switcher and includes Ross Xpression for on-air graphics and Ross Tessera for the studio LED screens, Evertz DreamCatcher playback systems, a Grass Valley GVOrbit routing/orchestration system and a Calrec Brio audio console.

“You have the ability to go from a more linear football-style production with a fully equipped control room and studio to a headquarters production that is on a more efficient scale of back-to-back broadcasts,” says Francis. “The [CBS Sports Digital] the team did a great job of turning it into a flexible control room space. Smaller scale shows can be staffed by as few as two people, or we can fill each bench with a full crew, as you would see in a larger linear network production. They did a great job of being flexible.”

SportsLine host Tommy Tran in the new studio (Photo: Mary Kouw/CBS)

To meet the tight launch deadline of the start of the American and Italian soccer seasons, the studio launched live in HD-SDI, but the entire facility has an upgrade path to SMPTE ST 2110, as well as 4K and HDR.

“We settled on HD-SDI to meet this deadline, but there’s absolutely no reason we can’t switch to 2110 on both at any point,” says Gillespie. “Everything has an upgrade path at the flick of a switch. The wall itself supports 4K, the processors support both 4K and HDR, the lenses are already 4K, and the cameras work at 1080i, but with a 4K license available. So everything is ready if we decide to go in that direction.

From Connecticut to Florida to New York to the cloud: connecting it all together

The Ft. Lauderdale and Stamford facilities are linked together and to the CBS Broadcast Center via the same RTS communications system. In addition, all three facilities are interconnected for IP video transport.

In addition, CBS Sports Digital’s use of Grass Valley GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) for cloud-based master control and playback is among the most innovative aspects of its live production operation. Not only does it provide a central workflow for both studio facilities, it also allows master control operators to manage multiple in-game feeds right from home.

“We’re completely cloud-based for that part of it,” Gillespie says. “Any of the matches that originate in the cloud continue to remain in the cloud; there is no reason to return it to the premises. The main control, of [SCTE-35] insert ads, the list and the launch of the whole [production] or downloading it is all in the cloud. It goes so far that if all 32 UEFA Champions League teams play at once, one broadcaster manages four events from home.

“We can rotate a channel based on the need for that event,” he continues. “If there’s hot weather and we need to keep CBS Sports on, we have to push a button and we can turn to a new channel at will. Everything is very flexible, very fast, very redundant and multi-regional.”

With the new studios up and running, the CBS Sports linear and digital teams are looking at next steps and possible synergies between the two. Although Francis says there are currently no official plans to produce a linear television production to broadcast on CBS or the CBS Sports Network outside of Ft. Lauderdale or Stamford studios, he notes that “the ability is definitely there in terms of equipment and workflow.

“We work more and more hand-in-hand every year, whether it’s a big event or a potential studio collaboration,” he adds. “I think it brings the digital side to a comfort level that is consistent with what we do on the broadcast and cable side. This, combined with increased connectivity and the availability of common technologies between us, will open up opportunities for all. Especially as football programming becomes more prevalent across our digital and linear platforms, having more resources within the CBS family will help our production teams.”

Stay tuned to for more in-depth coverage of CBS Sports Digital’s cloud-based master control and playback workflows.

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