PBR Caps Epic Season With World Finals in Fort Worth, Preps for Inaugural Team Series in July
This weekend marks the Professional Bull Riders’ first Championship event in Texas
Two years ago, PBR blazed a trail for the return of live sports production following the coronavirus shutdown and went on to become one of the first pro-sports leagues to welcome fans back to the venue. This weekend, PBR (Professional Bull Riders) caps off its season with one of its biggest events ever: championship weekend of the 2022 PBR World Finals at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX.
“Dickies Arena is an unbelievable venue, and we’re so excited to crown our champion in Texas for the first time,” says Robby Greene, who oversees TV and production for PBR. “The real difference this year is, we increased our footprint from an event standpoint. It was truly a Herculean task to do get this done, but we’re excited. Whether you’re a big bull-riding fan or not, the festivalization that we’re doing at Dickey’s is offering an opportunity for anybody to come out and enjoy. No matter where you’re from or what you like to do, we are going to put smile on your face.”
Besides the PBR World Finals at Dickies Arena, Fort Worth is also hosting the Stockyards Championship Rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum, Women’s Rodeo World Championship (split between Dickies and Cowtown), PBR World Finals Concert Series at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, a motocross event and the American Cornhole Pro Shootout Series just outside of Dickies, a Cowboy Christmas-style market with 60+ vendors, and much more. The PBR Velocity Tour Championships also took place in Corpus Christi, TX, earlier this month.
Onsite: PBR World Finals Production Is Bigger Than Ever at New Venue
Of course, even with all the festivities in Fort Worth, the spotlight is on the 40 riders competing for the $1 million bonus in bull riding’s most prestigious event, which CBS Sports Network began broadcasting last weekend and will finish on Sunday with the championship round on CBS. After hosting the World Finals in Las Vegas for three decades, PBR is pulling out all the stops for its first year in Texas.
PBR’s primary production trucks, PBR Mobile 1 and 2, are onsite at Dickies, along with PBR Mobile 3 to produce the broadcasts. PBR also brought in a Lyon Video (now part of Live Mobile Group) mobile unit to handle the Women’s Rodeo World Championship earlier this week. With the massive World Finals production running in the same venue on consecutive weekends, a Paul McCartney concert at Dickies Arena on Tuesday forced PBR to build out its onsite operation twice.
“We had to tear everything on Sunday night after the show and turn over a sterile building — removing all the dirt, all the steel, all the fiber, everything,” says Greene. “And then 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, we started setting it all back up again. For the first massive show [on opening weekend], we had four or five days to set it up, but, for the second weekend, we had to do it in 24 hours. It was definitely a challenge, but we got it done.”
PBR’s camera complement is similar to that deployed in years past in Vegas, according to Greene, but a new low-angle RF PoleCam deployed near the bucking chute will factor heavily into this weekend’s broadcasts.
“We’ll have an operator standing on the side of the bucking chute with a low angle,” he explains. “The camera is 2 in. off the dirt, looking back up at the bull, and it’s really amazing. In our sport, it is so difficult to show the athleticism not only of the rider but of the bull itself. People think these guys are just getting on an animal that wants you off their back, but it’s so much more than that. And we think that PoleCam offers a unique look and [reveals] that athleticism.”
Different Style of Coverage for New PBR Team Series
When the World Finals conclude on Sunday, Greene and his team won’t have much of a rest. The inaugural PBR Team Series will begin in late July (PBR will hold a draft to select riders on Monday after the Championship). For 29 years, PBR has held its World Finals in the fall in Las Vegas, but it is now hosting that event in the spring in Fort Worth, with the Team Series taking its slot at T-Mobile Arena the first weekend in November.
Viewers can expect a very different style of coverage for PBR Team broadcasts compared with traditional bull-riding coverage, Greene says: “It’s the first time we are taking a true mano-y-mano sport and changing it to a team-based competition. So the way we set that up and the way that we’re going cover it will be totally different.”
For example, in traditional individual competition, a bull’s delivery is either on the right or the left, and, as a result, a rider may change sides during the night if he’s on multiple bulls. However, PBR will redesign the arena layout for the Team Series with each team staying on one side for the entire competition.
“If you’re watching a broadcast of this weekend’s PBR and then watching the first Teams event at Cheyenne Frontier Days in July and you don’t see a major difference in the first minute, then we haven’t done our job,” says Greene. “We’re going to cover the sport totally differently. It’s going to be focused on the teams and what that means to the playoffs and the championships and not so much [focused] on the world standings. It won’t be individualistic; it is all about the teams.”
He adds that, in addition to creating one single show for both in-venue fans and the live broadcast, PBR plans additional coverage cams that will include a manned camera on the dirt to provide an up-close and personal feel for fans.
“We’ve had an amazing year, and we already can’t wait for the Team Series,” says Greene. “Our fans have come back even stronger, and we’re setting attendance records in the majority of the markets. We are setting all-time highs with our sponsors and partners. It has been a very challenging couple of years, but we believe we’ve come back even better than we were before.”