Lightning disrupts soccer telecast worldwide

Feed interrupted three times during Euro 2008 semifinal

NEW YORK -- Lightning strikes played havoc in Wednesday's Euro 2008 coverage around the world, with the international TV feed taken down three times, including the exciting final minutes.

Lightning strikes at the UEFA International Broadcast Center in Vienna, Austria, cut the telecast at least three times in the second half of the Germany-Turkey semifinal from Basel, Switzerland. The initial outage lasted six minutes, and then for the last 15 minutes the video was spotty at best.

It affected all of the world's Euro broadcasters, including ESPN in the U.S., with the exception of Swiss TV and Al-Jazeera.

ESPN's Rece Davis took pains to tell viewers early on that it wasn't just in the U.S. "It's everywhere, not just the United States but the world over," Davis said during the first forced break where he and analysts Julie Foudy and Tommy Smyth had to fill air time.

Some broadcasters, such as in Austria, gave viewers the stadium audio in the meantime, though ESPN did not.

That break was repaired relatively quickly, with no goals scored. But then the feed went out again, and this time it was damaging: ESPN and broadcasters missed two goals, one from Germany to make it 2-1 and then a response from Turkey that tied the score.

The feed returned just seconds after the Turkish goal, with the team celebrating. The feed went out a third and final time with a few minutes left in the game as the Germans went up 3-2, the final score.

ESPN was left airing live video of German fans celebrating in the "Fan Zone" outside of the stadium as the studio analysts in Bristol, Conn., tried to keep viewers updated. Then word came through that the game was over, with Germany fans jumping up and down.

"We're actually hearing that it's not over yet," Smyth said. "There was a close shave. Now it's officially over."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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