Live From Women’s Final Four: The Bird & Taurasi Show Highlights ESPN’s MegaCast Menu

Legends at Target Center alternative feed is produced via REMI workflow in Bristol

ESPN is surrounding this weekend’s NCAA Women’s Final Four in the biggest way it knows how: with a full-blown MegaCast lineup.

A menu of alternative viewing options of Friday’s National Semifinals (South Carolina–Louisville, 7 p.m. ET; Connecticut–Stanford, 9:30 p.m.) and Sunday’s National Championship is highlighted by a pair of women’s hoops legends chopping it up in a Manningcast-like format.

The Bird & Taurasi Show Presented by AT&T 5G features basketball legends Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi offering live game commentary. The control room producing the show is in Bristol, CT, but the talent work from a stage inside Target Center in Minneapolis.

In The Bird & Taurasi Show Presented by AT&T 5G, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi provide live commentary and both in-person and virtual interviews with celebrities from across sports and popular culture. On Friday night, the show will appear on ESPNU. On Sunday, it moves to ESPN2.

With a dedicated set on the concourse level of Target Center (the venue for this year’s Women’s Final Four), The Bird & Taurasi Show will be directed by Matt Wilson. According to ESPN Associate Manager, Operations, Catherine Carroon, this was a MegaCast offering that had been part of the original plans for this Final Four, but that project has grown in scope over the past couple of weeks, especially after AT&T came on as a sponsor.

“This show has grown so much,” says Carroon. “It will have a similar feel to the Manningcast: relaxed, comfortable. We had to get creative with it because this [was] an ESPN+ offering, where typically the producer and director are onsite routing those cameras themselves. Now it’s sponsored by AT&T, and it’s on ESPN2. That’s fantastic, but we had about a week and half to figure this out. It turned out great, though. We’re really excited for it.”

ESPN’s Catherine Carroon: “[The Bird & Taurasi Show] will have a similar feel to the Manningcast: relaxed, comfortable. We’re really excited for it.”

Even though the on-air talent is onsite, The Bird & Taurasi Show is a 13-path REMI show produced from a control room at ESPN’s home campus in Bristol, CT.

As the network announced prior to the start of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, another MegaCast option will showcase real-time data, player-tracking technology, and augmented graphics from Genius Sports’ Second Spectrum. An ESPN production crew will have the ability to augment the main game-broadcast feed with a suite of data-fueled visualizations like shot probabilities and distances from the basket.

A jib capable of displaying virtual graphics is positioned on the same platform from which The Bird & Taurasi Show will be hosted. The feed of that jib is also available on ESPN+ as a MegaCast option called Beyond the Rim.

According to Genius Sports, real-time data is generated through optical-tracking technology that locates player and ball positioning on the court, transmitting coordinates at a rate of 25 times per second.

The Second Spectrum Player Tracking feed will be available on ESPN+ on Semifinals Friday and ESPNU for Championship Sunday.
The main ESPN game production also will have access to the Second Spectrum data and graphics and will use it periodically.

ESPN will leverage some key camera technology for additional MegaCast feeds available to stream on ESPN+. Beyond the Rim offers an aerial view from a jib camera positioned on the same concourse platform area as The Bird & Taurasi Show. The feed will be accompanied by the main telecast commentary and replays and will feature an enhanced statistical feed. Meanwhile, the On the Rail option offers the ability to watch the entire broadcast from the perspective of the RailCam. This stream will feature replays but no commentary, focusing instead on showcasing the natural sounds of the arena.

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