ESPN Caps Off Record College Baseball Postseason Coverage With a Bang
During its 34 years on ESPN, the NCAA Div. 1 College Baseball postseason has become a staple of the network’s summer slate of live programming – but never like this. For the first time ever, ESPN televised all 153 games of the NCAA Div. 1 Baseball Championship, as well as every single College World Series game, across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3. It all culminates this week in Omaha, NE, as ESPN presents the UCLA-Mississippi State best-of-three College World Series Finals in primetime.
“ESPN’s expanded coverage of the regional games is great for college baseball and it’s fans,” says Rex Arends, Operations Manager, ESPN. “Hopefully the expanded coverage allows for more fan knowledge of the teams in Omaha. The CWS is the national championship of this sport and we try very hard to make it a special event for the viewers.”
The Scene in Omaha
Over the years, the CWS on ESPN has matured from a regionalized niche television property, to a full-fledged A-level show with all the bells and whistles of the network’s other high-profile productions.
This year’s coverage is no exception, as ESPN has rolled out a total of 22 cameras at TD Ameritrade Park, including three jibs, five robos, two wireless RF cameras, a NAC/Ikegami Hi-Motion II ultra-slo-mo (at 1200 fps), and a Sony Super slo-mo.
Meanwhile, on the audio side, ESPN has deployed 92 microphones throughout the field of play, in an effort to add a up-close-and-personal element to its coverage.
NEP’s NCP 8 (A unit) and Super Shooter 4 (B unit) has served at the core of ESPN’s production in Omaha since Game 1 on June 15.
Tech Toys for the College Kids
New this year in Omaha is ESPN’s ART (Advanced Replay Telestrator), which combines the power of EVS replay servers with a highly-intuitive telestrator tool to create more in-depth replays. The system, developed by ESPN’s Emerging Technology Arm, provides on-air analysts with the ability to spot-shadow players, utilize moving arrows, identify player names on-screen, and more.
The K-Zone pitch-tracking system is back, making its third go-round in Omaha. Now a fundamental element in ESPN’s MLB and college baseball coverage, K-Zone identifies the speed and location of a pitch in replays as well as tracks the path of the ball from the pitcher’s hand through the strike zone and numerically sequences pitches thrown.
ESPN Making Itself at Home in Year Three at TD Ameritrade
It’s now been three whole years since the legendary Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the College World Series for more than 60 years, hosted its final college game in 2010. While the history and mystique of Rosenblatt may be gone (it was demolished last year to make way for a Omaha Zoo and Aquarium parking lot), the spacious TD Ameritrade Park downtown makes for a much more efficient production and more hospitable truck compound.
“Rosenblatt was a great park – it had character and charm, a great venue for this event for many years,” says Arends. “[But] TD Ameritrade was built with TV in mind. It is a beautiful stadium and couldn’t be better from an ops standpoint. The compound is large and we use it all. It is pre-cabled to every camera position. The site line are outstanding. It is a joy to do games from this facility.”