Taking Eurovision 2023 to a Global Audience

The Eurovision Song Contest attracts attention by the bucket-load, with viewing figures increasing and the event becoming more global in its nature and appeal every year.

It made the 2023 event all the more special.

With the Russian invasion of the Ukraine halting last year’s winning nation from holding the event, the United Kingdom, more specifically Liverpool, warmly accepted the request to be host nation.

For a City Region synonymous with music, it became an almost military operation to prepare the M&S Bank Arena and surrounding areas and venues for this year’s event. Key to its delivery was Liverpool City Region’s full fibre network, built as part of LCR Connect.

A joint venture, 50% owned by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, alongside ITS and NGE – both 25% shareholders – the network played a critical role in this year’s contest.

The 212km full fibre network, which spans the six local authorities of the city region, provided the digital highway that enabled the successful delivery of the week-long celebration and grand final.

The incumbent: nils points

James Bonnar, is technical producer – Eurovision song contest 2023 – at the BBC. He explained that organisers needed specialised circuits in the venue, points to hand off to in London, as well as a level of cyber protection to deal with potential distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks.

Utilising the ITS Faster Britain full fibre network, the solution ensured Eurovision 2023 was broadcast to the largest global audience in the contest’s history, providing connectivity to the world’s media, audience members, and visitors in the city.

Ahead of the event, James and his team were especially alert to cyber threats, so it meant network security was a central element to this year’s event planning.

To ensure resilience, James and his team required a solution that encompassed completely diverse routes from the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool to independent locations in London, where internet traffic was handed off to the BBC and the European Broadcasting Union, allowing the show to be beamed around the world.

“LCR Connect and ITS were diligent and they delivered for us,” James said. “They were a smaller technology business than we’re perhaps used to working with. But while others may have simply accessed the BT network, ITS were able to install new fibre to the venue.

“They gave us a far more dedicated service and everything we needed from the team, we received with dedicated engineers on site for the live work. One of the benefits of working with a regional, more personal company.”

“From the project managers, to the engineers, to having the CEO’s phone number. We received a professional and responsive service, and I’d welcome the opportunity to work with the team again.”

James Bonnar, BBC Technical Producer – Eurovision Song Contest 2023

A festival of fibre

Working with the BBC, technology partners, and the National Cyber Security Centre, experts from LCR Connect and joint venture partners ITS and NGE provided the design and deployment of the network.

ITS, in partnership with leading security experts NTT, also provided protection for the public-facing internet traffic at the arena, defending against distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks, a tactic commonly used by cyber-criminals.

It meant the grand final was broadcast live from Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena to an audience of more than 160 million people worldwide, with performances running throughout the week, including fringe events as well as two semi-finals.

LCR Connect’s involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 demonstrates the importance of reliable, fast internet connectivity in large-scale events. The network’s successful deployment is a testament to the technical expertise and collaboration of LCR Connect, ITS, and NGE, who are delivering a world-leading full fibre network to the Liverpool City Region.

The network is significantly improving connectivity, supporting internet access for businesses and other organisations, making the city region one of the best-connected areas of the UK.

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