Live from The Open: ESPN ITV Gets New Home, Embraces Flight Tracker

Don Colantonio in CTV's OB9, home of ESPN's The Open ITV coverage.

ESPN’s ITV coverage of the British Open once again delivered a multi-viewing experience for DirecTV and ESPN3 viewers. But this year’s coverage had a couple of new tweaks, including a hosted show from a set near the practice range that was on air for more than 30 hours during the four days of the tourney and a new approach to storytelling that put less emphasis on featured groups and hole-by-hole coverage.

The four channels available to viewers included ESPN coverage, a channel covering holes 1 and 18 and the practice range, a channel covering holes 9, 10, and 11, and a channel that has the International Feed.

“The story we’re trying to tell has pre-round coverage of players, sound bites, and features from ESPN that we can repurpose,” says Don Colantonio, ESPN, senior director of production enhancements and interactive TV. “And then we show them coming in at 18 and ideally show their press conference. This serves a better purpose than more live golf coverage.”

“We want to eliminate redundancy and add more value so we have more coverage from the driving range and interviews,” adds Colantonio.

The ITV service also had a new home. Last year ESPN used three OB vans: OB10, OB9, and OB6, with ITV operating out of OB6 and Sportscenter out of OB9. But this year, Sporscenter was produced from OB10, freeing up OB9 for ITV needs.

ESPN's ITV service used Flight Track for every tee shot on the first hole.

ESPN ITV also expanded the use of Flight Tracker, the technology that tracks the live flight of a tee shot with a yellow line. The technology is located at the first tee and the ITV service uses it for every tee shot from that hole. The hole is also unique for a major championship in that it is a par three instead of the more typical par four opening hole.

“It’s cool to cut from the tee box and see it trace against the clouds and then cut to the green camera to see where it landed,” adds Colantonio. “And Flight Tracker distinguishes what we’re doing.”

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