Twitch, Turner Sports Keep ELEAGUE Super Punch Production Rolling From Home
The new weeknight show maintains high energy and real-time fan engagement
In February, Twitch and Turner Sports teamed up to focus on the latest trends, news, and social content from the gaming and esports world. Less than four months after debuting on TBS and Twitch, ELEAGUE Super Punch has carved out a sizable audience as overall esports viewership skyrockets with traditional live sports on hiatus. And despite having to produce the show entirely from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show has found a way to maintain its high energy and engage its growing fanbase.
“Of course, I miss being with my crew, because there’s nothing quite like the control room of a live show,” says Callum Hanlon, executive producer, ELEAGUE Super Punch, Twitch. “But, all in all, I am really proud of how seamlessly our crew transitioned to a fully remote production.”
The community-driven show, which streams live weeknights on a dedicated Twitch channel and airs Friday nights on TBS, spotlights the week’s biggest gaming and esports moments. Hosted by Twitch streamers and gaming personalities Ify Nwadiwe, Kelly Nugent, J.D. Witherspoon, and Alex Corea, Super Punch offers a new take on the late-night–talk-show format with real-time engagement built in. The show features top and trending clips, live guest interviews, contests with top streamers, and interactive discussions with viewers about trending clips and gaming topics of the day.
Transition to an At-Home Workflow
Originally, the show’s Monday-Thursday episodes were produced from Twitch’s studio in Los Angeles and live-streamed on Twitch, with Friday episodes televised from ELEAGUE headquarters at WarnerMedia Studios in Atlanta. However, when news about quarantines abroad began trickling in, Line Producer Brian Barlow had the foresight to call a team-wide meeting to create a remote-production plan for the show in case of a quarantine order.
“We came up with a plan and started doing some preliminary tests,” says Hanlon. “When the shelter-in-place order came, we stuck to our plan and never missed a show.”
Inside the Workflow: vMix and Discord Play Big Role
The ELEAGUE Super Punch production workflow is built around a vMix software-based switcher operated by Technical Director Sean Grasse from his apartment in Los Angeles. He takes calls and switches the show on a single system. The bulk of the graphics work is handled by a remote graphics operator on a second system, which is fed to vMix via NDI and controlled remotely with TeamViewer.
The production crew comprises 10 members, with an additional three for research, writing, and editing. The team stays connected over Discord, using several voice and text channels designated for different aspects of the show. Team members who need to watch the show with as little latency as possible get a program feed from the TD; the rest watch the stream, which generally runs on a 3- to 4-second delay.
Live audio is a major component of the show, with ELEAGUE Super Punch relying heavily on music, sound effects, and voiceover handled remotely with an RTMP audio solution that feeds into the main hub system. The audio and graphics team are able to watch the stream with very low latency, enabling them to react in as close to real time as possible.
Show host Nwadiwe is in front of a green screen in his home, and the production team inserts still frames of the ELEAGUE Super Punch set to give the illusion that he is actually in the studio. Each night, he sends two feeds from two computers: one video and one of gameplay. When guests call in, the production usually attempts to simplify their input to one full-frame video feed; however, if they’re tech savvy (which many of them are, coming from the gaming/esports sector), the production team uses virtual cameras to allow them to share gameplay, graphics, or multiple cameras.
“Internet speed is honestly the biggest challenge, [and] we’ve had some throttling issues,” Hanlon notes. “Dialing in settings for guests can be a challenge, with audio generally being the biggest challenge because we can control only so much about a guest’s setup.”
Twitch Interactive Tools Prove To Be a Differentiator
The ELEAGUE Super Punch production relies heavily on Twitch’s interactive tools, called Extensions, to make the show highly interactive. Two team members are dedicated to those elements of the show. Whether it’s live click-based heatmaps, featuring comments on-screen for the host to react to; polls; follow buttons for featured guests; or a tool called the Emote Meter, which allows users to interact exclusively with Twitch’s emotes (the on-platform equivalent of an emoji but customized for individual streamers and communities), viewers can actually help the production team create the show.
“I am really proud of our team,” says Hanlon. “I appreciate them most when we get messages from fans of the show thanking us for continuing to provide entertainment and community during a time when they need it most.”