The story this year was an unusual one for both Hereford FC and CJP Broadcast Service Solutions Ltd, as it has been for many.

Back in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit, CJP Broadcast Service Solutions Ltd saw all of their normal systems business stopped overnight. Many of their contracts were put on hold and in truth, it looked very bleak.

Being a small company based in Whitchurch near Ross-on-Wye, with just five staff members they were fortunately quite agile and lean. The only contract they had running during the initial lockdown was a project to Digitise Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation’s entire tape archive. This is a project they have been working through since 2016 digitising over 15,000 broadcast tapes.

Fortunately for CJP, they were appointed as Streamstar S.A’s Primary UK partner for the sales of their Live Production systems back in October 2019 and had invested in their premium range product the Streamstar iPX 8 channel production unit along with 2 JVC HD PTZ cameras for demonstration purposes. So Chris and the team decided that they would put it to use during the pandemic with their small team to provide live productions for different events. Bringing entertainment back into the homes of people.

The first event was a fundraiser for St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford. Chris’s son Kieran organised a live stream sponsored head shave with live social media feedback on YouTube. He managed to raise £2,500 for the hospice with donations coming in from local people and industry colleagues. They did the production remotely where their producer was sat at home near Bath remoting into the system at home and cutting cameras and graphics live.

After this CJP started to advertise that they were available to cover events and Chris invested in a small fleet of JVC HD cameras. They approached Hereford FC as soon as they realised that the season would be behind closed doors. As a massive fan of Hereford FC and sponsor of the club since 2014 when it reformed Chris and the team wanted to bring fans the very best coverage whilst they were all isolating at home. The club agreed a contract with CJP and they set out on the journey of live sports production.

CJP Managing Director Chris Phillips said:

“As a technology company we had to learn very quickly how to produce football coverage to a high standard. As such I brought in Rob Dyton, a BT and Sky football producer with the experience of over 3,000 games from the EFL to World Cup Finals and Chris Hollier a EPL cameraman.

“They agreed to train us and we engaged them for the first friendly games we covered against Newport County and Solihull Moors FC. We partnered with a brand named streaming platform provider and PPV paywall specialist and tested to ensure the system all worked to a high stable standard.

“We invested in a graphic and editing software package to enable us to create the lower thirds, wipes, team sheets and sponsors graphics and transitions. So my little team soon became experts in graphic design as well.

“During this period we were approached by the FA Media team who wanted to do something different around the 2020 FA Cup semi finals and final. We worked with the FA to live produce the human interactions around the FA Cup games, by mounting remote controlled PTZ cameras in the tunnel and red zone technical areas where the managers stand and covered the reactions and emotions of the players and managers during the game.

“There were 6 cameras deployed and we fed a mixed output to the FA Media team for social media, all 6 camera feeds were made available live as the files were growing to a team of FA editors who were cutting programs for their YouTube channel and also provided an SDI feed to BT for optional use in their live coverage of the game.”

“Shortly after covering the semi final and final programmes for the FA, we were contacted by Blackpool FC who wanted us to live produce and stream their friendly fixture against Blackburn Rovers. This we managed to do with a full paywall set up for each team to sell tickets to their own fans. The production took place during Storm Francis with winds and rain it was certainly a challenge for us. We lost two pieces of equipment in the storm but managed to get a good solid live stream out to fans.

“We also were fortunate to be able to work with Barrass TV a small production company based in Yorkshire, where we took our production system to cover the Yorkshire v Durham T20 blast. Link below if you like Cricket.”

Chris added: “We also sold a system to The Media Bunker who produce programmes for the RFU and supported them at Twickenham for both the Autumn Internationals and 6 Nations. Link below.

“We provided the multi zoom feed capability for the pregame shows. We will also be off to Doncaster this weekend to cover the Women’s RFU 6 Nations pregame programme with the Media Bunker. So it has been an exciting year of live production work.

“However, the highlight of the year has been providing multicamera live coverage of my hometown club Hereford FC. We wanted to bring the best quality possible within the boundaries of technology we had available. The season has been difficult for non-league football with very little income, so live streaming the games was the only way the club could bring the games to the fans in their living rooms and generate a much needed income.

“For the league fixtures, we put in cabling to 4 camera positions and produced the games from within the stadium. The coverage went out worldwide with fans from 30 countries tuning in. The feedback from fans has been so humbling. Comparing our coverage to BT Sport and Sky was very flattering albeit we know we can’t get to that level with the limited budgets we had.

“Word got round about what we had done with the clubs friendlies and the FA. It wasn’t long before two other non-league clubs Oxford City FC and Darlington FC invested in their own systems with us. We set up both clubs and trained their volunteers how to produce the games and utilise the system to its full potential. Both clubs used our services for streaming and paywall throughout the season. So we started the season with 3 clubs on board.

“The feedback from Darlington fans was incredible and they regularly had over 1,000 fans watching on the streams.”

Chris Stockdale of Darlington FC said:

“We couldn’t have done this without the help and support of CJP Broadcast this season, they have been incredible to work with, nothing has been too much for them and our media team have benefited hugely from CJP’s experience in TV technology and production.”

CJP Managing Director Chris Phillips said:

“Mick Livesey and Paul Lyons at Oxford City FC took the idea of live streaming and really promoted the clubs streaming within their local business community and fan base.

“The Oxford City Media team achieved a very good standard of service probably the best in National League South. Very much at the heart of the Oxford local business community, Mick and the Oxford team really impressed this year providing exposure of their sponsors and partners to the highest levels during their live coverage of games. Well done Mick.

“Bath City, Kidderminster Harriers, Telford AFC, Southport & Havant & Waterlooville all started the season using another companies streaming service and had huge problems with drop outs and fan complaints. They reached out to our company for help after hearing about what we achieved with Hereford FC, Oxford and Darlington and we were able to set them up with the streaming platforms and paywalls that allowed them to put out a solid service to their fans for the remaining part of the season.

“To be able to play a small part in delivering quality streaming services for these non-league clubs this season has been an absolute pleasure. The people behind the scenes in these clubs, mostly volunteers have been a delight to work with. Our little team have helped to provide some of the best football coverage this season outside of the Premier League and I have been told by several that the service we have provided to Hereford FC fans has been envied by many non-league fans across the country. The fan and club feedback has been incredible and very humbling. I am so proud of my young talented team this season who have adapted their engineering skills to become seasoned producers and cameramen.

“I would like to thank Jonathon Buglass Studio Floor Manager at the BBC and producer for Kidderminster Harriers TV, who came over for the FA Trophy Semi Final and provided invaluable assistance and support for the pre match live programme with Rob Purdie, Steve Guinan and of course the very talented presenter Ben Chilman.

“I am so proud of my young team for their efforts. Joseph Franklin our No.2 tight head cameraman, Kieran Phillips No.1 main cameraman (Hereford FC first aid volunteer), Kieron Sharpe Assistant Producer and Cameraman and of course James Ruddock ‘The Producer’ who has worked his socks off this season to make this all happen both from a technical set up and production operation perspective. During the season with our work with HFC, we have also been fortunate to be able to provide valuable work experience to Alice Mills, a 2nd year Television Production student from Solent University, who drove from Southampton to work No3 camera. She has done a cracking job and is a credit to her lecturers.  

“Finally a huge thank you to Rob Crawford, Andrew ‘Dodsy’ Graham and Nigel Edmundson for believing in our capabilities and to allow us to be part of the club this season but most of all thank you to all of the Hereford Fans who have supported the club and the TV service this season. I hope we did the club and the city proud. With a Wembley final just over a month away, what an absolutely fantastic end to what has been a difficult year for everyone. Come on you Bulls!”

Hereford FC Chairman Rob Crawford said:

“HFC TV probably delivers the best coverage in the National League, but was once again improved for the FA Trophy Semi Final by increasing the number of cameras from 4 to 6. Very impressive for the National League North.

“CJP Broadcast Service Solutions are one of our valued sponsors.”

Here are some of the comments from fans of Hereford FC:

Steve Warner: “Incredible service you have provided.”

Pam Collins: “Excellent coverage. Many thanks to all involved for making it possible to see our team play this season.

Joanne Clements: “Amazing coverage as always. Thanks so much for all the hard work behind the scenes.”