Tennis Channel's New Hi-Def Court

When Tennis Channel moved to high-definition, it didn't just buy new equipment, it built a new home for all the gear.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based Tennis Channel relied on Fox Sports' uplink center in Los Angeles as its technical hub since its May 2003 launch. But to introduce a 1080-line-interlace (1080i) HD service, expand its live production and prepare for growth, it needed a tech home of its own.

In early 2007, the network leased space in Culver City and created its own production and operations center. The facility went fully live last Monday, the same day Tennis Channel's HD service launched on DirecTV.

Designed by architecture firm Eric Owen Moss and integrated by Venue Services Group, the new facility includes a master control, a 5,000-square-foot production stage and a separate 450-square-foot insert stage with Sony HD cameras, two production control rooms, a voice-over room, green room and production offices.

“In working for over four years out of Fox, we found at times that we taxed their capabilities,” says Tennis Channel VP of operations Keith Manasco. “This allowed us to target very directly what we need to accomplish with our work, and also handle our needs when we're most active.”

The master control room is 24 feet long and 16 feet deep was overbuilt to accommodate the origination of additional channels. Gear includes an Icon master control switcher, Icon Station branding and graphics system, Louth automation software and Nexio playout server, all from Harris Broadcast; Doremi digital video recorders for backup recording and program delay; and Sony LCD monitors driven by Miranda's Kaleido-X multi-image display processor.

Tennis Channel's two production control rooms pull double-duty as editing suites. They are outfitted with Sony production switchers, routing switchers, HD videotape recorders and LCD monitors; Abekas Axial MX linear editors; two Harris Velocity nonlinear editors; EVS SpotBox servers; Chyron HyperX HD character generators and Yamaha DM2000 audio consoles. A Masstech archive system backs up all programming, which will include 1,500 hours of live tournament coverage in 2008.