KUSA To Give Denver Broncos Football the Mile-High Treatment
After a seven-year absence, Denver Broncos preseason football is back on KUSA-Channel 9 and the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate is welcoming the team back in style. As Broncos’ flagship station, KUSA has exclusive television rights to all four of the team’s preseason games and will produce all four in-house. But that is just a taste of what is in store during the season.
“For us, this is not a six-month proposition,” says Tim Dietz. “One of our charters is to keep the profile of the Broncos front and center 12 months of the year. Unlike recent years where things lit up in July for the start of training camp and then went dark in January, our goal is to keep Broncos programming alive all year long.”
A Year-Round Affair
That year-round programming will include weekly shows with Broncos demigod and new EVP of Football Operations John Elway and with new head coach John Fox. KUSA, which signed a two-year deal with the Broncos in May after the team severed ties with CBS O&O affiliate KCNC, will also feature pregame coverage, exclusive postgame coverage from the locker room, late-night Sunday coverage following newscasts, quarterly prime-time specials, and NFL Draft preview shows. In addition, KUSA has increased access to Broncos game footage and allowed to use the team’s logo in promotions.
“We are happy to be back in the fold with the Broncos,” says Dietz. “We are picking up where we left off a few years ago.”
Simulcasts, Lundquist Highlight Preseason Coverage
KUSA is producing all four preseason games in-house, as was the case from 1996 through 2003 when it originally served as the Broncos’ flagship station. Denver-based mobile production vendor Mobile TV Group is supplying trucks for both home games as well as the away games in Dallas and Phoenix. The crew is composed of both freelancers and KUSA staffers.
Dietz & Co. deploy a total of eight cameras for home games and six cameras away, sharing additional cameras with the home team broadcaster.
KUSA is treading new ground in the booth during preseason away games this year, simulcasting the 850 KOA radio feed – featuring long-time play-by-play man Dave Logan and former Broncos quarterback Brian Griese – to 66 radio stations and eight television stations throughout the region.
“It is an interesting hybrid experiment that went very well last week and that we will repeat on the last away game [in Phoenix],” says Dietz. “That’s the first time, to my knowledge, a simulcast has been done around here for [preseason games].”
As for the home game broadcasts, CBS Sports has lent out veteran broadcaster (and Steamboat Springs, CO resident) Verne Lundquist to handle play-by-play duties alongside former Broncos defensive end Alfred Williams.
Lockout Complications Avoided…For the Most Part
Due to the prolonged NFL lockout, local affiliates and teams across the country struggled with booking trucks and crews for preseason games that may not even take place. KUSA was not immune to this threat, but was able to weather the storm.
“The uncertainty prevented us from being able to lock things in,” says Deitz. “But from a practical standpoint the crewing company and Mobile TV Group were gracious enough to hard pencil us in and not nail us to the wall because they knew that there was uncertainty around the market with this stuff.”
While the production side was thankfully given a bit of flexibility, KUSA’s ad sales department was a very different story.
“It was difficult from a sales standpoint because people didn’t want to jump into not know what they were or weren’t going to get,” says Deitz. “But we kept pushing forward knowing that in one fashion or another we were going to get some form of preseason games. We knew that we were in it, but it was just a matter of how many we would do.”
KUSA-Channel 9’s exclusive coverage of the Broncos preseason matchup with the Buffalo Bills begins at 6:30 MDT on Saturday, Aug. 20.