SportsTechLA: ESPN L.A. Facility Nears Completion

By Ken Kerschbaumer

ESPN is nearing completion of a 120,000-sq.-ft. facility in Los Angeles that will give the network a solid West Coast presence and also end a lot of late nights for ESPN staffers in Bristol, CT, who have historically worked on a 1 a.m. ET

“We’ll be able to reduce some of the early-morning work shifts of the Bristol employees and add to the ESPN newsgathering operation and production as ESPN continues to grow,” said Judi Cordray, general manager, ESPN Los Angeles Production Center, during the SVG SportsTechLA event on the UCLA campus.

Technologically, the new facility will be closely tied into the ESPN Digital Center in Bristol, with two 10-GB pipes carrying content and assets between the two facilities. Initially, the facility will be able to record 24 incoming sports events (that number will eventually double), and, although that’s far fewer than the 120 simultaneous HD feeds that the Bristol facility can ingest, it will give production staffers ample content to slice and dice for

“We’re planning on a tremendous amount of connectivity between the two facilities so we can move files and media at enormous speeds,” explained Jon Pannaman, senior director, technology, for the ESPN Los Angeles Production Center. “We will leverage the workflow everybody uses in Bristol, and, eventually, we will put the media that is captured in Bristol into the hands of our editors so they can browse and edit via the Quantel systems.”

One major difference between the two facilities will be a 3-Gbps routing infrastructure in Los Angeles, giving the facility the potential to be a test bed for next-generation technologies, such as 1080p or even 3D.

“From a technology standpoint, we’ll be able to try out new things,” added Pannaman. “It’s very difficult to build rooms into ESPN’s 70-acre campus in Bristol that have different technology. The new Los Angeles facility is future-proof and has a lot of legs for the future.”

Gary Reynolds, senior director, production operations, Los Angeles Production Center, says the
SportsCenter from Los Angeles will have a West Coast feel. “We definitely want people to know that we are on the West Coast,” he says. “We’re also hoping to tie the Summer X Games into this facility.” The Summer X Games take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, near the new ESPN facility. The ESPYs also will be produced out of the Los Angeles facility.

Approximately 20 full-time staffers are working in the facility right now, and that number will jump to 80 by the time it opens its doors this spring.

“The way I see it,
SportsCenter is just the beginning, and there will be more content coming out of Los Angeles,” said Cordray. “We don’t know what that content will look like yet, but stay tuned.”

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