It all starts the day before the game, with the trucks which serve as mobile studios making their way to the stadium for the team to set up the cables and cameras that are going to be used on match day.
Broadcasting the Soweto Derby is not the same as any other match in South African football, so everything has to be perfect.
All viewers get to see on the screen is the action on the pitch, but a lot goes into putting together a match that will give subcribers the best angles, replays and visuals on the day. And it’s brought together by a team of about 60 people.
That’s just the people at the stadium. There’s the chopper flying over the stadium, with a presenter reporting live. That’s the same chopper which follows the team’s buses when they are about to arrive at the stadium.
Cameras are ready for when players get off the buses and there’s dressing room shots that are used during the build-up.
“We have 21 cameras for this match and that includes the chopper. We’ve got commentator cameras for games of this magnitude because we might want to cross over to them,” production director Lazola Mhlom explains.
“[In the truck] There’s audio, there’s production, we’ve got graphics, we’ve got stats – the guys who count the passes, the ball possession and everything you see [on screen]. They work with the guys who are outside [trucks] who supply us with the video. We’ve got a slow-mo department, so anything that happens these guys take it back. So we call the cameras in numbers and we call the slow-mo’s in colours, so I’ll say red, purple or another colour so that there is no confusion.”
If a goal is scored, what do we do? We establish the right shot. ‘Was he offside, give me a close up, give me a reaction, maybe give me the beaten goalkeeper’. That’s the same thing we do with the cameras. If a goal is scored, I’d say ‘Cam 2, give me the beaten goalkeeper. ‘Cam 3, give me the goalscorer. Cam 4, give me the guy who lost the ball’. Then you are automatically telling the story. The most important thing is the story that you are telling – you can’t just cut shots for the sake of cutting shots.
“So do we do a facilities check, to make sure everything and everybody is on the same page. It’s madness, it’s the kitchen in the restaurant. The food looks good on the plate and that’s what we care about. As long as the viewers are getting their money’s worth, we are happy. We fight a lot here, but we fight and then we go have our drinks.”
At about 12 noon, after lunch, Lazola has a meeting with the commentators and analysts to inform them what the plan is when they go live and how much time they have to give their views on the match.
Floor manager, Alfie Phokobye, makes sure everything on the ground goes according to plan. He gets the coaches from their dressing rooms for them to do interviews before the game. Just before kickoff, a whistle is blown by the referee to let both sets of players know that it’s time to line-up in the tunnel. Once both teams are ready, Alfie gives the teams the go ahead to walk onto the pitch.
Before kickoff, he does the count down for the referee and at exactly 15h30, the match kicks off.