Turner Sports’ NCAA.com Set To Capture Quest for 17 National Championships

As the West Chester University Golden Rams hoisted their first NCAA Division II Field Hockey National Championship trophy last weekend, defeating defending champion UMass-Lowell, Turner Sports was there in Bloomsberg, PA, capturing every moment of the 2-1 victory and streaming it live on NCAA.com.

The 2011 NCAA Division II Field Hockey National Championship is the first of 17 fall championships that Turner Sports’ NCAA.com will stream live over the next two months.

In addition to Division II Field Hockey, the site will feature live coverage of Divisions I and III Field Hockey; Divisions I, II, and III Men’s and Women’s Cross Country; Divisions II and III Men’s and Women’s Soccer; National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo; and Divisions II and III Women’s Volleyball. The site will also stream Division II football quarterfinal games on Dec. 3.

For Turner Sports, the road to these NCAA Championships starts before the seasons begin.

“Our preparation for each championship season starts 3½ to four months in advance,” says Mark Johnson, VP, business operations, Turner Sports. “We’re forming our strategy and talking through our plan: who we’re going to staff at the these events, what kind of coverage [we’re going to provide], what kind of equipment, what kind of talent?

“That plan becomes pretty concrete a good six to eight weeks before the championships start, and then, it’s go time,” he continues. “We’ve got everybody set up with travel plans, we’ve got all the equipment in the right hands, and we’re ready to ship around the country.”

Each of the 17 championships will feature, at minimum, two Sony HD cameras, a NewTek TriCaster production system, and on-air play-by-play commentator. Depending on the event, many championships will add a third (sometimes a fourth) Sony HD camera and a color analyst. Divisions II and III Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Divisions II and III Women’s Volleyball will also feature EVS replay systems.

“We really take a look at the championship [and] decide what level of production we want to put against that championship,” says Johnson. “After we decide the production level, then we determine the equipment that’s needed to hit that production level.”

Those events with traditionally large fan bases do receive premier treatment; however, for the Turner Sports crew, a higher division does not necessarily mean a higher-caliber production. Often, the venue itself takes precedence in determining how many cameras to deploy.

“Take cross country for instance,” suggests Johnson. “It’s an event across miles and miles of terrain. It’s a little bit different to cover than field hockey, which is an enclosed venue. Golf [which is played in the spring] is another example: you’re [covering] so many different holes, and you have to run so much fiber across a golf course, so that impacts how many cameras and how many people are needed.”

As part of Turner Sports’ digital relationship with the NCAA, the selection shows for Division I Men’s and Women’s soccer were streamed live from Turner’s studio in Atlanta. An additional nine selection shows will be produced out of association headquarters in Indianapolis and streamed live on NCAA.com.

For each of the 17 championships, as well as those Division I events not streamed online, NCAA.com will offer complete coverage, including in-depth editorial and analysis, on-site student and team features, game previews and recaps, real-time scoring data, box scores, interactive brackets, video highlights, and social content via Facebook and Twitter.

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