BBC Red Button Wimbledon - Anatomy of a Service Transcript


BBC Sport via Red Button is very popular with viewers, and Wimbledon has been an important part of the Red Button service from its very start.

In 1999, the BBC presented a Wimbledon service that allowed viewers to select different video streams and information such as the order of play and player profiles.

However, this service was only available on prototype set-top boxes. Our Wimbledon service now is available on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media, and on Freesat for the very first time in 2009.

The making of the Red Button Wimbledon service is very complex. In this video, we've simplified the process so that we can show you how the action filmed at Wimbledon ends up in your living room.

It all starts at the All-England Club in Wimbledon. During the two-week championship, the BBC has teams stationed at Wimbledon ready to capture the action as it happens.

At Wimbledon, camera feeds are sent to the gallery where the team do live junctions for the Red Button service.

These changes are announced by Rob Curling.

Rob Curling announces
"Well, we are going to leave this match here on court number three Hantuchova going well, apologies if you are keen to watch this match, but we thought it was necessary to take you over to court number one."


Live videos are sent via a fixed line straight to the BBC's Television Centre. This is then patched up to the Broadcast interactive Production area. Matt Millington from BBC Sport explains how match selection is done.

Matt Millington
"We have up to nine courts available to us for televised coverage for Wimbledon. There are actually 20 cameras available, only nine of those offer broadcast quality pictures. There are fixed cameras on every single court but they're not good enough to offer broadcast pictures. Those courts are available to anyone who has the rights that includes network obviously, Red Button, online and any world broadcaster can use those nine feeds."

"We decide which matches to put up in the morning before play when we get a full list of the matches that are being commentated on from BBC Sport. We then basically choose the top matches of the day, all involving the top seeds, any British player obviously; this is a UK-only service so we do have a British slant to our coverage."


Colm Harty, a producer at BBC Sport, explains how each match is assigned its position in the multiscreen.

Colm Harty
"The way we decide to give matches prominence in the Multiscreen is effectively decided by the network programme in that generally for Wimbledon they'll put Centre Court or No 1 Court on BBC One or BBC Two and we will reflect that because they are the pick of the games and that's the reason why they're on those courts and that's why we decide to put those prominently in the Multiscreen. For example, we had Venus Williams playing this morning, she's five-time Wimbledon champion. Later on we've got Andy Murray on Centre Court, that's the game most people want to see so that's the game we give prominence on the Multiscreen."

When the service is ready, it is sent to a playout studio owned and operated by Red Bee Media. Chris Barson explains what happens here.

Chris Barson
"Here at Red Bee Media we playout, support and transmit the BBC's interactive services behind the red button across four platforms, those are Freesat, Freeview, the Sky satellite platform and also Virgin cable. We're a fairly a small team made up of assistant engineers, operation co-ordinators and playout directors too. We look after the service 24 hours a day, we look after both the digital text service and also the enhanced tv services such as Wimbledon. What we effectively do is we stitch together a whole load of assets that are given to us such as data and audio-visual material and such and such. These are scheduled and then we create the finished product. I suppose a good way of creating an analogy would be it's a bit like cookery - the BBC would give us the recipe and the picture of the finished item, production would give us the ingredients and effectively here at Red Bee we're the chef."

"In terms of how we handle the Sport Multiscreen here at Red Bee Media Interactive Playout, we have 12 circuits that come in from Sport. We use eight of these here as straight TX feeds, these are sent straight out. We actually split them between 6 feeds for satellite and cable and 2 separate feeds go to Freeview. In terms of building the Multiscreen itself it's actually quite complex and we actually work backwards. We take transmission feeds that are coming in to us, we then squeeze them into nine-way split and we send that nine-way split down to Sport and they use that for the small windows on the right-hand side of the actual Multiscreen. We also send them a separate feed which is the feed that goes into the main window. Again Sport would tell us the detail for what particular feed they want to go in that particular window. Sport graphics box would then create the Multiscreen and they then pass the finished article back to us and that goes out to transmission."


Once the service is transmitted, it is delivered to your living room via the red button on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.

We've done all the hard work - now you can sit back and enjoy the service.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.