2020 Sports Emmys: A Deeper Look at the Big Production and Technology Winners

Relive the stories behind CBS Sports' coverage of The Masters, Fox Sports' efforts at the FIFA Women's World Cup, CBS/Turner's work on 2019 March Madness, a graphics redesign at ESPN, and an esports breakthrough at League of Legends World Final

Tuesday night’s 41st Sports Emmy Awards was a celebration of an industry that prides itself in putting innovation and technology at the forefront. The roster of winners harkened back to 2019, a year loaded with production and operations achievement across the world of sports.

Thirty five trophies were given out during the virtual ceremony and here, we break down for you four specific projects that shined on Emmy night and stood above a wildly competitive year of sports television work: CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2019 Masters, Fox Sports’ coverage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, CBS and Turner’s work on the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, ESPN’s NFL graphics redesign, and Riot Games’ production of the 2019 League of Legends World Final.


CBS Sports’ Coverage of The Masters Rises to the Top

It was fitting that an event steeped in tradition was celebrated for its significant steps forward in the video production and distribution of the event.

Director Steve Milton (left) and producer Lance Barrow sat at the front bench of the historic 2019 edition of The Masters on CBS.

CBS Sports’ coverage of The Masters took home three of the most prestigious awards of the night in Outstanding Live Sports Special, Outstanding Technical Team Remote, and the George Wensel Technical Achievement Award.

At the center of CBS Sports’ 2019 coverage was its “Every Shot, Every Hole” coverage; a comprehensive media management effort that spanned across linear and digital platforms.

Our Ken Kerschbaumer spoke with CBS about the efforts last year following the event:

The Masters 2019: CBS Sports Reflects on Groundbreaking ‘Every Shot, Every Hole’ Coverage.

In addition, at the 2019 SVG Summit, our Brandon Costa spoke with Brian Carr, Founding Partner of Thumbwar; Mike Francis, VP, Remote Engineering and Planning at CBS Sports; and Patty Power, EVP, Operations and Engineering at CBS Sports about the project:


Fox Sports Takes Over Paris at 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Not to be lost in a year of global broadcast achievement, Fox Sports’ coverage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was celebrated with the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Technical Team Studio.

Fox Sports’ studio in Paris for the FIFA Women’s World Cup was the centerpiece of an effort that won the network a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Technical Team Studio.

The cornerstone of that operational effort was the network’s eye-popping studio in the Trocadéro in Paris that gave viewers an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. Fox Sports worked with Los Angeles-based Drive Studios to create an environment designed to connect the studio to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks.

While, at its peak more than 120 people worked on site, the studio was a multi-continental effort whose control room was an NEP unit on site that housed the video department, the front-bench team, audio mixing, and control of on-set robotic cameras. However, it also saw EVS and graphics operations located in Los Angeles, where the studio-show content was finalized before being delivered to the viewers’ home.

Our Ken Kerschbaumer was on-site in Paris last summer and caught up with Fox Sports’ VP, World Cup Operations Rod Conti and Director, Technical Operations Kevin Callahan to break down the magnificent structure:

Live From the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Fox Sports’ Studio Eiffel Tower Backdrop Dazzles.


At 2019 March Madness, CBS and Turner’s Collaborative Efforts Hit an Epic Note

While the first major sports cancellation of the COVID-19 era was the 2020 NCAA Tournament, CBS Sports and Turner Sports had reason to smile as they took home the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Playoff Coverage for its work on the 2019 edition of March Madness.

CBS Sports’ and Turner Sports’ production of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – which culminated in the Final Four in Minneapolis – was celebrated at the 2020 Sports Emmys for Outstanding Playoff Coverage.

While the production of March Madness is a multi-week, nation-wide effort, the event truly culminates in the technical marvel that is CBS and Turner’s operation behind the Final Four which, last year, was hosted at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The two networks packed two full production compounds (one inside the bowels of the stadium and another outside in a parking lot), more than 50 cameras in the bowl of the stadium, two unique studio sets, and more than 400 CBS staffers alone on site to pull everything together.

In addition to all of the action at venue, CBS also brought its CBS Sports Network out in force with an impressive pair of sets in Downtown Minneapolis at IDS Center.

Our Brandon Costa got time with CBS Sports’ EVP of Operations and Engineering Patty Power to analyze the

Live From Final Four: For CBS and Turner, One of the Year’s Biggest Productions Sings a Familiar – Albeit Epic – Tune


ESPN’s NFL Graphics Redesign Sweeps Pair of Emmys

To honor the 50th anniversary of the iconic sports television property Monday Night Football, ESPN underwent a comprehensive redesign of its NFL company-wide graphics package. The hard work swept the Sports Emmys graphics awards on Tuesday night, claiming trophies in Outstanding Live Graphic Design and Outstanding Post-Produced Graphic Design.

At the 2020 SVG Sports Graphics Forum back in February, Michael “Spike” Szykowny, senior director, motion graphics and production planning, ESPN Creative Services, provided a detailed presentation on the thought process, influential designs, and color palette that transformed the graphics package of the 2020 season:


Esports Gets Its Due as League of Legends World Final Makes Emmys History

This year’s Sports Emmys were also a coming out party for esports as, for the first time, the production of video game competitions was included in the list of trophy winners.  YouTube and Riot Games claimed the first-ever Sports Emmy for Outstanding Esports Coverage for its work on The League of Legends World Final.

The Finals of Riot Games’ 2019 League of Legends World Championship took home the first award in Sports Emmys history celebrating Outstanding Esports Coverage.

Held in November of 2019, the LoL World Final was described by Riot Games chief executive Nicolo Laurent as “the biggest event in the history of esports,” with an estimated 100 million people watching around the world.

A world feed was produced in Riot’s Los Angeles-based facilities that was delivered in 19 different languages to more than 40 distribution parters in a spectacular technical effort. And in the heat of battle, Riot Games’ Esports Technology Group decided to innovate with the new JPEG XS compression format – realizing what is probably the first trans-Atlantic remote production undertaken using JPEG XS.

SVG Europe’s Fergal Ringrose was in Paris to speak with Riot Games Esports Technology Group head Scott Adametz to break down the overall production, notably how Riot used SMPTE 2110 both in Paris and Los Anageles to distribute uncompressed and compressed video segments:

Live From Paris: World-leading Remote Production for Riot Games’ League of Legends Finals.

For more on the 2020 Sports Emmys and for the complete list of winners, CLICK HERE.

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