ESPN Takes Viewers on the Court for WNBA Finals

Every year without fail, ESPN’s WNBA Finals coverage offers some of the most intimate angles and up-close-and-personal audio that sports viewers are likely to see all year. This year’s five-game Minnesota Lynx-Atlanta Dream series is no different, with the return of Ref Cam, live microphones on coaches and selected players, and a roving RF camera allowed on the floor during the game.

“Each different technology we use draws the viewer closer to the game in different ways,” says Coordinating Producer Mandy Cohen. “The Ref Cam allows the viewer a never-before-seen look at the action from the ref’s point of view. The RF camera on the court brings fans as close to the action as they can possibly come, while the live microphones allow us to tell the story of the game straight from the people who are actually playing or making the decisions.

“Add it all up,” she adds, “and you have the fan watching at home feeling like they are actually part of the teams on the court.”

Ref Cam Returns
With the Ref Cam, designed and provided by BSI (Broadcast Sports Inc.), a wireless RF 1080i HD POV camera and an HD mini transmitter are positioned at eye level and attached to a pair of frameless glasses or a headband (depending on preference) worn by the ref. A vest containing the transmitter and batteries that provide the video and power is worn beneath the ref’s shirt. The camera offers a unique first-person perspective that can be switched in real time by the director in the truck.

The system has been used at a handful of sports events this year after debuting in July at the WNBA All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut (it also made an appearance on the pitch a few days later at the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City).

RF Gets in the Game
ESPN will also roll out a roving RF camera that provides viewers a unique on-court view. Unlike RF cams traditionally used during NBA and WNBA coverage, these wireless cameras are allowed on the floor during the game — mainly during free-throw attempts.

Miked Up
As has been the case for several years at the WNBA Finals, several players and both head coaches will wear live microphones throughout the games. In addition, selected players will be miked during shootarounds for ESPN’s live look-ins leading up to games.

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