NBA Digital Keeps Eyes on the Hardcourt with Summer League Coverage
Free agency and the USA Men’s National Team’s run up to the Olympics have dominated the NBA newswire this summer, but for those fans struggling with pro-basketball withdrawal, NBA Digital has returned with live coverage of the NBA Summer League. While the Summer League may lack superstars or any bearing on the win-loss column, it does give NBA TV and NBA.com a chance to expose die-hard fans to the next wave of potential NBA greats.
“The Summer League is key because the casual fan does not know the seventh man on the Celtics Summer League team, for example,” says NBA Digital VP of Production Albert “Scooter” Vertino. “So it is our job to set these guys up, talk to them, and introduce them to the viewers. It is really a one-stop shop for hoop junkies.”
In all, NBA Digital is producing 56 live games and more than 300 hours of coverage on NBA TV, NBA.com, and NBA Mobile, as well as every single game for the NBA Summer League Broadband subscription streaming service. After producing the first week of games from the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, NBA Digital is now on hand in Las Vegas, producing up to four games per day out of the Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion.
Live Action Just Off the Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas has been a mecca of basketball activity over the past week with the both the Summer League and Team USA training camp taking place just off the strip. NBA Digital has been on hand to cover both, rolling out Lyon 11 HD (along with Lyon’s B5 B unit) as its primary production truck for all games from the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion.
All games that air on NBA TV and NBA.com are five-camera shows, regardless of the venue. Four coverage cameras are used for games that are streamed on NBA Summer League Broadband.
“We want to handle it with the same type of quality that we would handle a regular season or playoff game,” says Vertino. “There will be a few differences, like a [handheld] camera operator may not follow the team all the way into the huddle as they would [during the regular season] because they are shooting four games in a day and we don’t want to burn them out. But as far as preparation, graphics, and storytelling, it is essentially the same.”
In addition to covering four Summer League games per day, NBA Digital produced NBA Real Training Camp: USA Basketball, a live behind-the-scenes look at Team USA’s practice on July 11, and co-produced the team’s opening exhibition game against the Dominican Republic on July 12. Despite taking place at three different venues (Thomas & Mack, Cox Pavilion, and Mendenhall Center), Lyon 11 HD was used to produce it all.
Scaling It Down for Orlando
This year marked NBA Digital’s second Summer League visit to Orlando, after covering the opening week of summer action the first time in 2010 (the Summer League was cancelled in 2011 due to the lockout) . While Las Vegas is a large-scale, dual-arena event, games held at Orlando’s compact RDV Sportsplex are closed to the public and feature little more than scouts and team personnel in the stands.
Accordingly, NBA Digital utilizes a scaled-down production philosophy that is based around a NewTek TriCaster and deploys four coverage cameras. In addition, the talent roster consists of two play-by-play announcers and two analysts, as opposed to the army of high-profile talent that calls the action from Vegas.
“Orlando is a very different animal because it is a much tighter environment,” says Vertino. “It is not open to the public, so the TV environment is very different from an actual game where you have fans, and we have to take that into account.”
Plenty of Familiar Faces – and Voices
Despite the Summer League’s lower profile, a full lineup of Turner Sports and NBA Digital talent is rotating behind the mics for each telecast from Vegas. This includes play-by-play voices Matt Winer, Joel Meyers, Kevin Calabro, Rick Kamla, and Vince Cellini, as well as analysts Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Greg Anthony, Chris Webber, Steve Smith, Dennis Scott, Brent Barry, Sam Mitchell, Rick Mahorn, and Kendall Gill.
“One of the great characteristics of Summer League is the intimate setting,” says Vertino. “You turn on any of the games and you’ll see an array of VIPs sitting [at the broadcast table] with our team. You have Jerry West, Greg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, Chris Bosh, Richard Jefferson, and even some owners like Dan Gilbert at the table giving their insights.”
NBA Summer League Broadband
In order to access additional games not shown on NBA TV, fans must purchase the NBA Summer League Broadband subscription service. Available on both NBA.com and NBA Mobile, the streaming service offers a full slate of live and archived Summer League games for $14.99 via NBA.com and iTunes.
On mobile, fans can download NBA Summer League, a new free app featuring live scores, video highlights, recaps, and game alerts. The NBA Summer League app will include the opportunity to upgrade to a premium version with access to all live games on NBA Summer League Broadband.