NCAA Wrestling Coverage Begins With Four-Screen Mosaic on ESPN3

While most sports fans’ eyes are turned toward men’s basketball, ESPN will be in St. Louis for its own form of March Madness. Starting today, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships descend on the Gateway to the West.

Champion Anthony Robles joins the ESPN team as an analyst covering the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships, starting today at noon.

When all is said and done, ESPN will showcase more than 50 hours of this weekend’s action across multiple platforms. For the fourth year, ESPN will open its coverage via Internet streaming. ESPN3 will provide an exclusive four-screen, four-mat viewing experience on the multiscreen sports network.

According to ESPN3 Senior Producer Stos Hall, ESPN, in conjunction with ESPN Regional based in Charlotte, NC, will have four cameras, one each covering the inside mats. In the production trucks, the production team will use all four banks of the switcher to feed the four mat feeds out of one switcher using a pair of unlinks.

“We did the ACC championships a couple of weeks ago,” says Hall. “We only had two mats there, so we did a little experimenting with what was possible in one truck. That was also to see if maybe we could expand what we do for this event next year.  We are still looking for ways that are cost-effective to ramp up the coverage.”

Both an ESPN3 and an ESPNU truck will be on-site and powered up beginning today, but only one set of cameras will be used. The Web-streaming crew will run the camera feeds through ESPNU’s truck into its own before sending the feeds back to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, via satellite.

Beginning today at noon, ESPN3 viewers will have the opportunity to view hundreds of individual matches throughout the three-day tournament. Shawn Kenney and three-time All-America Jim Gibbons will voice sessions one and two on ESPN3.

For the sixth consecutive year, two of the four quarterfinals, as well as the semifinals, will be televised on ESPNU in a revised side-by-side format to maximize the HD viewing experience, allowing viewers to catch the action in two matches at the same time.

ESPNU will televise the championship medal round and the individual weight-class championships on Saturday, with the finals at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. During the finals, two referees per match will wear a microphone, giving more access and insight into the action.

ESPN will roll out a new graphics look for the wrestling championships, according to Hall, who says it will be easier to read and feature cosmetic changes, including color swatches to match schools.

The network is looking to bolster its analysis of college wrestling with the addition of three-time All-America and 2011 NCAA Wrestling Champion Anthony Robles. Born without a right leg, Robles took the sport by storm a year ago when he went 36-0 in his senior year at Arizona State, claiming the 125-pound title.

“Anthony will contribute a personal knowledge of both current wrestling techniques and student-athletes that is crucial to our telecasts of the sport,” says John Vassallo, senior coordinating producer at ESPN. “We are impressed with his awareness, poise, and on-camera presence for someone in their first television role.”

Robles is expected to enhance ESPN’s coverage of the quarterfinals, medal round, and finals alongside veteran analyst Tim Johnson and play-by-play commentator Adam Amin. ESPN recognized Robles with Best Male Performance by an Athlete with a Disability at the ESPYs last year, in addition to its Jimmy-V Award.

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