NBA TV, TNT To Produce Wealth of All-Star Festivities for TV, Broadband

With NBA All-Star Weekend tipping off in Houston tomorrow, this is the quietest time of the year for many players and regional sports networks across the country. Even so, it will be a high-water mark for the production teams at NBA TV and TNT, which will be providing hoops fans more content than ever before via TV and broadband services.

AllStar resizedThe major changes this year are that the NBA TV pregame shows will be produced from Houston instead of from a studio in Atlanta and that today’s player-interview sessions, which occur simultaneously at four tables, will all be available online as complete streams rather than edited highlights.

“What’s happened is, NBA TV has really raised the bar of these shows,” says Chris Brown, director of technical operations, NBA TV. “We’ve been doing them in some form or fashion for a while, but now there is much more attention to the creative side, and we have a host location.”

NBA TV will operate out of three mobile-production units provided by Lyon Video: Lyon-5 at the NBA Jam Session, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center; Lyon-9 at the Hilton Hotel, where the studio show and press conferences are held; and Lyon-11 at the Toyota Center, where many of the core activities will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

During the weekend, NBA TV production teams will bounce around among the various venues, which are all connected via a Level 3 Communications 140-Mbps circuit with NEP’s ESU unit serving as the central routing point for audio and video signals. The fiber connectivity is complemented by two satellite uplink trucks at the Hilton Hotel, and Atlanta-based facilities are also able to access content.

“We do keep the majority of the editing operations in Atlanta, but we have a robust EVS [server] and Apple Final Cut Pro SAN that allows the editors to pull anything off of the EVS network,” adds Brown. “In the past, we used EVS IPDirector, and the clips had to be played real time into the editing system.”

Saturday Shuffle
For viewers at home, the NBA TV offerings on Saturday promise to be the biggest draw. Not only will viewers be treated to the practice sessions of both the Western and Eastern Conference All-Stars, but there is also an All-Star Game featuring players from the NBA D-League.

This year’s big change for those events, both held at the Jam Session, is the construction and use of the Sprint Arena within the convention center. Constructed specifically for events that will be televised (ESPN will also shoot a celebrity game there on Friday), it allows the production team a chance to leave equipment in place from one event to the next.

The productions there will have only about nine cameras, but the dedicated facility will come in very handy on Saturday night when NBA TV turns it over to NBA Entertainment for another first: a concert to be held prior to the All-Star Game on Sunday and aired on both NBA TV and TNT during their pregame coverage.

The transition includes turning Lyon-5 into an entertainment-style remote-production unit, with communications systems connecting TNT, NBA TV, and NBA Entertainment personnel so that they can handle the transition from one network to the next (TNT carries the actual game on Sunday night).

“The devils are in the details, and there are so many little details to be coordinated,” says Brown. “But the NBA gave us an early heads-up to the changes this year, so we were able to begin the process of creating the pregame look early on and also figure out how to connect the two buildings. And now we’re making good progress.”

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