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That’s the Way the Ball Drops – Feeds for New Years Presentations!


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First things first – With the recent holiday season behind us, we set our sights on New Year’s Eve media coverage!

“We are once again offering commercial free pool feed to international and domestic broadcasters, as well as online outlets,” says Jeff Straus, President, Countdown Entertainment, “to share the excitement from Times Square with revelers around the world.  This year’s celebration will feature musical performances by Jessie J and Daya along with hourly celebrity countdowns, reveler interviews, and the Times Square Ball Drop!”

The goodies that will be offered include Pre-New Year’s Eve footage featuring the arrival and installation of the “2016” numerals atop of One Times Square; the assembly and lighting of the New Year’s Eve Ball; Good Riddance Day; Confetti Test; and other preparations are in process – pre-event coverage will be available via download, featuring 16 x 9 HD broadcast quality video, B-Roll footage (encoded as H.264), broadcast and web quality pre-packaged EPKs, photos and press releases.

The Information and Broadcast Feed Links are available at the bottom of this article! READ ON!!!

What’s with this New Year’s Event, anyway?

The ever-reliable Internet states that the first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.)

Now that we’re talking New Year’s Eve and Times Square, you know that I can’t resist in launching into some back-story about how the Times Square event came into being and several juicy trivia tidbits about this spectacular event now seen and monitored around the globe!

We’ve all heard the term “Ringing in the New Year” – but it is best applied to the history of Manhattan’s Trinity Church on lower Broadway in New York City (NY).

Without going too much into the history of the church itself (although it is a rich one, dating back to the first building, built in 1698 at 75 Broadway near old Wall Street – originally founded under the charter of King William III of England in 1697, when New York was still known as New Amsterdam – Google it sometime for some fascinating history), the building today is the third and newest one. The tall and narrow steeple of the 160-year-old construct forces the sound of the bells outward, rather than inward into the sanctuary. It is because of the feature that the bells were rung at midnight, tolling-in the New Year.

Despite not knowing exactly when the tradition started, it is recorded that the ritual ended in 1894 at the command of Deacon Dix, who had decided that the gatherings had just become too unruly; but the Trinity Church celebration continued to attract revelers, as this New York Times article from 1897 reports: “The crowds came from every section of the city, and among the thousands, who cheered or tooted tin horns, as the chimes were rung out on the night, were many from New Jersey, Long Island, and even Staten Island.”

Several years later in 1904, it was the owner of The New York Times, German Jewish immigrant Alfred Ochs, who moved his newspaper into the building now known as “Times Tower” onto the tiny triangle of land at the intersections of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street, who is credited as starting the New Year’s Eve shindig at what is now “One Times Square.”.   At the time, it was Manhattan’s second-tallest building (if measured from the bottom of its four cavernous sub-basements, which were built to handle the intense loads of the newspapers’ up-to-date printing equipment of the time). After successfully having the area (once known as “Longacre Square) renamed “Times Square,” he wanted to celebrate in a big way – with fireworks and a gala bash that would be the talk of the town!

It was so spectacular that it was called “an all-day street festival that culminated in a fireworks display set-off from the base of the tower, with the joyful sound of cheering, rattles and noisemakers from the over 200,000 attendees at midnight, which could be heard, it was said, from as far away as Croton-on-Hudson, thirty miles north along the Hudson River.” The New York Times‘ account of the event described it quite eloquently: “From base to dome the giant structure was alight – a torch to usher in the newborn year…”

The night was so successful that Times Square replaced Lower Manhattan’s Trinity Church as the place in New York City to celebrate the New Year. Although city officials banned the fireworks display two years later, Ochs couldn’t be stifled – the party must go on… so, he organized a “time ball” – large, illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood sphere – to be lowered from the flagpole of the tower exactly at midnight to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908. But a “time ball?”

Latif Nasser, holder of a PhD from Harvard in the history of science, did extensive research on time balls, stating that:

Time balls originated in the early eighteen-hundreds, before there were time zones. Most American cities kept their own time, based on the sun. Knowing the exact time at sea was exceptionally difficult but was crucial to navigators, who used it to calculate their precise longitude. To determine the time, seafarers relied on a marine chronometer, an apparatus that resembled an oversized pocket watch, carefully gimballed in a wooden box to keep it level as rough seas rose and fell.

Unfortunately, chronometers varied in their “going-rate”—the speed at which they ran. If the instrument wasn’t periodically “rated”—recalibrated—the vessel risked being wrecked by unexpected shoals. “The deadly serious task of rating chronometers,” as the historian Alexis McCrossen has called it, forced crews to lug the delicate devices ashore and pay agents to maintain them.

In 1818, Captain Robert Wauchope, of the Royal Navy, had a better idea. Why not use a visual signal from a coastal naval observatory, coordinated by telegraph, which captains could see from their decks? The first ball drop took place in late 1829, in a dockyard at Portsmouth, England. Wauchope’s design used two balls, both five feet in diameter, set on a flagpole at the water’s edge. One was fixed at the top; the second was weighted and mobile. Minutes before noon, the second ball was raised up the flagpole until it met the stationary ball, so that no light passed between them. A flag was flown nearby, to warn observers of the imminent drop, which Wauchope estimated took a little less than half a second. At the moment captains saw light between the balls, they checked their chronometers against the official time.

A year later, Wauchope grandly claimed, “There will be no port of any consequence into which a ship can enter, where an accurate rate for the time-pieces on board may not be found.” He drummed up support from London’s ship captains, and shortly afterward, the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich, erected its own time ball. Soon many more appeared, at ports in the Cape of Good Hope, Jakarta, Valparaiso, and Madras. By 1845, there were a dozen or so time balls installed around the world.

By the eighteen-eighties, new commercial technologies—such as those of the Self-Winding Clock Company, in Brooklyn—eliminated the need for mariners to recalibrate chronometers, and therefore the need for public time signals.

On land, however, time balls found a new audience. In cities, people set their personal clocks to them. So, too, did city businesses that relied on having the precise time, such as banks, coach companies, clockmakers, and playhouses. We know that Lincoln was shot at 10:13 P.M. because a stage carpenter had synchronized the Ford’s Theatre clock that morning: “I fixed the clock in the vestibule by the ball today and it is right by that,” he said. Government officials considered the time ball an appropriate accent on municipal buildings. In 1884, someone even proposed erecting a time ball on top of the Washington Monument.

New balls popped up on both coasts, and even in landlocked cities like Kansas City, Missouri; Akron, Ohio; and Crete, Nebraska. Businesses put them in their shop windows or atop their corporate headquarters. Jewelry stores used them to demonstrate the reliability of their clocks and watches. In 1877, Western Union installed a time ball on its Manhattan headquarters, at Broadway and Dey Street. Its firing signal came from the Naval Observatory in Washington, via a dedicated telegraph line, which directed the ball to drop at noon New York time, or about 11:48 A.M. in D.C.

So, because the “time ball” was the prevailing technology of the time, and its popularity was so excessive, Ochs had to have one and its yearly lowering on New Year’s Eve has become the traditional worldwide event now seen by billions.

It is interesting to note that although the Times moved in 1914 to 229 West 43rd Street, the Times Square ball-drop continued, interrupted only by wartime blackouts in 1942 and 1943. Nasser further states that “until 1995, the ball was lowered much as older time balls once were: by ‘six guys with ropes and a stopwatch.’ Today, the drop is initiated by a laser-cooled atomic clock in Colorado, the primary time standard for the United States. It continues to be our most spectacular display of public time-keeping.”

…and now, the rest of it:

Video content will be uploaded mid-afternoon or evening (EST) on the following dates:

12/15 (Numeral Arrival),

12/27 (Crystal Installation),

12/28 (Good Riddance Day),

12/29 (Confetti Test),

12/30 (Ball Test and Balloon Preparation) and

1/5/16 (Ball Re-lighting & Raising).

Download access at: www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/for-mediapress/nye-media-kit/index.aspx

BROADCAST LIVE NEW YEAR’S EVE COVERAGE OF TIMES SQUARE 2016:

Live coverage of the Times Square New Year’s Eve festivities with exclusive panoramic views from proprietary camera locations with the ambient and natural sounds of the revelers. Highlights include the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball at 6 p.m. EST, hourly countdowns, activities engaging the revelers, AP’s Year-End News video, live musical performances (including Jessie J’s performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and singer-songwriter Daya), a Military Salute medley by the USO Show Troupe and Special Guests (TBA) joined by the Mayor of New York City to push the Waterford Crystal button that signals the Ball Drop. This clean, uninterrupted feed will be provided free of charge to media organizations around the world on a non-exclusive basis solely for their use in creating television programming relating to the event.  Additional information, including a schedule of events and talent (TBA), is available at: www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/index.aspx. 

NORTH AMERICAN TIMES AND COORDINATES: NEW YEAR’S EVE LIVE COVERAGE

1) VIA FIBER IN HD AND SD:  Wednesday, December 31, 2015; 5:55 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. EST

The New York Switch HD:  NY POOL 3

The New York Switch SD:   NY POOL 2

2) VIA SATELLITE IN HDWednesday, December 31, 2015; 10:00 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. EST

C Band:  SES 3, Transponder C24 SLOT A/B; Orbital Position 103’ West; Downlink Frequency 4171 VERTICAL,

Bandwidth 18 MEG, FEC 3 / 4, SYMBOL RATE 13.0

KU Band:  SES 3, Transponder K8 SLOT A/B, Orbital Position 103’ West, Downlink Frequency 11851 vertical  

Bandwidth 18 MEG, FEC 3 / 4, SYMBOL RATE 13.0

Technical Contact:  Lenny Laxer – 917-299-0205

INTERNATIONAL TIMES AND COORDINATES: NEW YEAR’S EVE LIVE COVERAGE

VIA SATELLITE IN SD 16 X 9:  Wednesday, December 31, 2015 11:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. EST

(January 1, 2016 0445-0515 GMT)

EUROPE:  IS 905 61/61 slot A, Orbital Slot 335.5; Downlink Frequency 10958.5  Vertical, FEC 3 /4, Symbol Rate 6.1113; Bandwidth 9 MEG, Compression Tandberg 4:2:0, Video Standard PAL

LATIN AMERICA:  IS 21 24C, Slot A, Orbital Slot 58’ West; Downlink Frequency 4146.5 Horizontal, FEC 3/4, Symbol Rate 6.1113, Bandwidth 9 MEG, Compression Tandberg 4:2:0, Video Standard PAL

ASIA:  IS 8 20C CHANNEL 2, Orbital Slot 169’ East; Downlink Frequency 4100 Horizontal, FEC 3/4, Symbol Rate 26.48, Bandwidth 9 MEG, Video Standard PAL

AFRICA/MIDEAST:  IS 20 LM6C, Slot A, Orbital Slot 68.5’ East; Downlink Frequency 3827.5Vertical, FEC 3/4, Symbol Rate 6.1113, Bandwidth 9 MEG, Compression Tandberg 4:2:0, Video Standard PAL

Technical Contact:  Lenny Laxer – 917-299-0205

EMBED LIVE COMMERCIAL-FREE NEW YEAR’S EVE WEBCAST OF TIMES SQUARE 2016

Official Host Allison Hagendorf and three correspondents will provide live, commercial-free, webcast coverage of the festivities leading up to the Ball Drop at midnight including backstage access, behind-the-scenes stories and interviews with revelers, performers and other celebrities.Additional highlights include the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball at 6 p.m. EST, hourly countdowns, activities engaging the revelers, AP’s Year-End News video, live musical performances (including Jessie J’s performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and singer-songwriter Daya), a Military Salute medley by the USO Show Troupe and Special Guests (TBA) joined by the Mayor of New York City to push the Waterford Crystal button that signals the Ball Drop.

The Webcast will begin at 6:00 p.m. EST on December 31, 2015 and end at 12:15 a.m. EST on January 1, 2016.  The show will be available at TimesSquareNYC.org, TimesSquareBall.net and Livestream.com/2016.

Additionally, the event organizers are inviting digital media outlets, bloggers and webmasters to embed the live commercial-free Times Square 2016 webcast to enhance New Year’s Eve content on their own sites.

Additional information, including embedding details, is available on the Web at: www.Livestream.com/2016 or

timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/webcast/index.aspx.

OFFICIAL TIMES SQUARE 2016 MOBILE APP FREE FOR APPLE AND ANDROID DEVICES

Watch the live New Year’s Eve webcast described above on your mobile device anywhere in the world by downloading the Times Square Ball App for free via Google Play and Apple’s App Store. The webcast may also be viewed by going to TimesSquareNYC.org orTimesSquareBall.net on your mobile browser. Times Square New Year’s Eve mobile viewing information available at: www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/app/index.aspx.

The staff at Broadcast Beat wishes everyone a happy (and safe) 2016! Our suggestion for a New Year’s resolution? Stay blogged-in with all that’s happening in the media world by synchronizing your own clock to the Broadcast Beat! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


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Ryan Salazar

Editor-In-Chief, Publisher at Broadcast Beat Magazine, LLC.
Ryan started working in the broadcast and post production industry at the young age of twelve! He has produced television programs, built large post production facilities, written for some of the industry's leading publications and was an audio engineer for about ten years. Ryan previously wrote for Broadcast Engineering Magazine, Creative COW and his projects have been featured in dozens of publications.
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