SVG Year in Review: November
November began with difficult times for many across the northeastern United States as the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy began to be assessed. The hurricane destroyed CBS Sports Network’s new Chelsea Piers-based studio in New York City with rising floodwaters and brought with it controversy as the New York City Marathon was cancelled after outrage from the city’s residents over the diverting of resources. CP Communications spent a challenging week in the wake of the storm preparing for the race but their work went for naught when the race was cancelled just two days prior to the starting gun.
Sandy also brought the region and the sports production community together. Some production truck companies dispatched units to assist with storm recovery operations. An All Mobile Video truck was used as a generator for a shelter in Hoboken, one of New Jersey’s hardest hit cities, which was without power for multiple weeks. In addition, the SVG Sports Broadcasting Fund dedicated resources to assist those in the industry most affected by the storm.
While the storm cancelled the Brooklyn Nets home operner, the NBA season got off to a strong start. ESPN entered its 11th season of NBA coverage with a revamped talent pool for its NBA Countdown studio show and new technologies for its live productions, including an I-MOVIX ultra-slow-motion camera shooting through the glass backboard. NBA on TNT tried out a new look with an increased attention on audio and the positioning of cameras lower along the court. Meanwhile, NBA Digital debuted a new studio set and revamped team websites.
When the Nets finally did tip off their season at the Barclay’s Center on Nov. 3, the new arena’s video team hit the ground running, programming a 70,000-lb. center-hung scoreboard featuring four HD main video displays, each measuring 16 ft. high by 27 ft. wide with 6-mm line spacing. Installed above the four main displays are four smaller scoring displays, each more than 7 ft. high by 27 ft. wide. The Indiana Pacers also debuted a board of their own: a center-hung video board with twin sideline-facing Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision 6-mm LED HD screens, each measuring 50 ft. x 21 ft.
The NBA may be enjoying a season of labor peace following a lockout but the same can’t be said for the National Hockey League. With games currently cancelled through Jan. 14, the NHL’s foreseeable future is in dire straits. Back in November, executives for the league’s mobile sports production partners spoke out about the financial and scheduling implications on their business during the league’s on-going dispute with the players’ union.
NBC welcomed back the Breeders Cup back to its air after a six-year absence. The Peacock produced 8½ hours of coverage over two days on NBC Sports Network, leading up to the one-hour Breeders Cup Classic telecast on NBC, which aired in primetime for the first time.
November also saw a bevy of technological advances beginning with Sony who introduced its new CineAlta 4K Cameras, the F5 and the F55. At CCW, power players in sports television production discussed their opinions on emerging 4K tools and the timeline for the medium’s full implementation. Remote sports production pros talked about moving beyond baseband to IT. The sports industry also continues to lead the charge on TV Everywhere tech.
The college basketball season tipped off with a handful of games honoring the United States military on Veterans Day. A total of four military sites — three ships and a hangar — played host to live college basketball on Veterans Day weekend: the Armed Forces Classic in Germany on ESPN and the second Carrier Classic and the Navy-Marine Corps Classic on NBC Sports Network and the Battle on the Midway on all Fox Sports affiliates. NBC faced the toughest challenges as slippery court conditions caused the suspension on both of their telecasts. With the start of the season, ESPN also began broadcasting many of its college basketball telecasts in discrete 5.1 sound.
On the college front, ESPN3 began partnering with universities to boost the production quality of sporting events streaming on the Worldwide Leader’s popular digital network. On many streaming broadcasts, students are playing a more increased role.
The Sports Video Group hosted 130 industry professionals at Times Square’s Hilton DoubleTree Hotel for it’s annual TranSPORT event. The day was was kicked off by network engineering executives discussing their wishes for the industry going forward. Panels also discussed how HEVC (high-efficiency video encoding) and JPEG 2000 could help the world of sports-video contribution, backhaul, and distribution make a significant leap forward; the challenges and benefits that come with cutting the cord on cameras; maximizing connectivity and transport in venues; the open Internet’s reliability as a sports production tool; and the demand for satellite services. The day was highlighted by a behind-the-scenes look from Riedel Communications and Origin Digital of the transmission of one of the year’s most-watched sporting events, Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull Stratos jump.
As the Stratos jump proved, YouTube has become a sports-content-distribution force to be reckoned with.
November saw some major business transactions take place, spotlighted by NEP Broadcasting’s definitive agreement to acquire Corplex. With the purchase, NEP added the Chicago-based company’s trio of HD trucks — Chromium, Iridium, and Platinum when the deal became official in mid-December. News Corp. and Yankee Global Enterprises also announced an agreement that called for News Corp. to acquire a 49% equity stake in the YES Network, the TV home of MLB’s New York Yankees and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. ESPN also secured its place as the home for college football, inking a 12-year rights pact to the new playoff system.
Adding to its list of initiatives, the Sports Video Group partnered with the Broadcast Education Association to create the SVG/BEA Runners Network, a website designed to give sports broadcasters, leagues, teams, and related TV-production entities a tool to more easily find production assistants and runners for their productions.