USGA Calls NEP’s NCP14 Unit Home for U.S. Open World-Feed Production

COVID postponement, new rightsholder complicate the event

More than 190 countries will broadcast the U.S. Open via a world feed produced by the USGA out of NEP’s NCP14 production unit.

“We take about 80% of the NBC feed,” explains Kevin Landy, senior director, broadcasting and production, USGA, “and then, when they go to commercial or to a feature that doesn’t translate for our international audience, we have our producer and director use one of our four cameras. Our unilateral cameras are on the 9th hole, which is a finishing hole on Thursday and Friday, and then on 16, 17, and 18.”

Shane Bacon is handling lead play-by-play for the world feed, and Ned Michaels is analyst.

It has been a unique Open for the USGA. Not only is there the pandemic to deal with and the tournament is being played in September instead of June, but, at the end of June, NBC Sports took over the USGA rights deal from Fox Sports.

NEP’s NCP14 production unit is at the center of the USGA U.S. Open world-feed production.

“Nobody saw that coming except for the guys orchestrating it,” says Landy. “And that plus the shift from June to September meant that Program Productions [Inc.] had to come through for us as there are many more sports being played now than when we usually have the Open in June. PPI was really good to us, making sure that key personnel we would have used in June were available in September. They have been great partners for the USGA production staff.”

Landy also credits NEP, which similarly finds many more of its facilities in use in September than in June.

“When the postponement happened in March,” says Landy, “one of the concerns was the availability of trucks, given the crush of college football and everything else. But NEP was able to get us a world-feed truck that gives us everything we need.”

The Open is being hosted in the New York City Tri-State area, and Landy says that has made a difference when it comes to crewing and the need for backup personnel.

“We have two EVS operators and also one standing by,” Landy notes, “but we are blessed to be in the New York City market because it is a large market and, if we needed to, we could draw replacements if needed. We don’t need backup crew hunkered in a hotel.”

Also helping out is Vault COVID-19 spit testing, which everyone onsite is required to do prior to arrival. Onsite, an additional BioReference Labs nasal-swab test is administered, and personnel then wait up to 24 hours for the results before going about their job.

“It has worked really well,” says Landy. “Also, PPI knows a lot of the protocols and is aware of what we are trying to accomplish, and it has been so far, so good.”

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