SVG Summit: The Top Sports-Production Highlights From the Year That Was

The opening panel of Day 2 at this week’s SVG Summit in New York City featured top production execs from CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, MLB Network, and Turner Sports discussing “Sports Production Highlights From the Year That Was.” In addition to the top moments in live sports production of 2016, the session touched on some of the most significant technological leaps forward over the past year, including live 4K/UHD, virtual reality, player-tracking, augmented reality, and virtual graphics. 

Super Bowl 50 featured a number of major technology advances: notably EyeVision 360, extensive pylon cameras, a new revolutionary Filmwerks generator system, and the first-ever appearance of the Sony HDC-4800 4K high-frame-rate camera, which perfectly captured game-turning Von Miller’s strip sack of Cam Newton. Ken Aagaard, EVP, innovation and new technology, CBS Sports, examines all the innovations from the biggest game of 2016:

Fox Sports has been extremely busy when it comes to virtual-reality production in 2016, working with various VR production partners to deliver VR experiences from the MLS Cup, Big Ten Championship, Ohio State-Oklahoma football game, U.S. Open golf, Big East Basketball Tournament, Daytona 500, and Premier Boxing Championship. According to Michael Davies, SVP, technical and field operations, VR, Fox Sports, has graduated from the completely experimental phase into a technological adolescence that Fox Sports can hang its hat on. Although VR headsets have yet to take off the way many expect, Davies notes that 360 video can be a valuable second-screen tool even without a headset, as a “magic window” experience on a user’s mobile device. Check out his thoughts on VR, including the importance of storytelling:

ESPN’s third Megacast of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game was among the most epic productions of 2016. For its version of the Super Bowl, ESPN deployed 90-plus cameras (including Pylon Cams) and nine mobile units onsite, as well as 42 outbound paths and 21 return paths, to serve the 14 Megacast platforms. John LaChance, director, remote production operations, ESPN, provides an overview of this massive effort as well as a preview of what to expect in 2017:

Turner Sports made history in April when TBS broadcast the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament National Championship, marking the first time the title game had been televised on cable in the 78-year history of the event. Tom Sahara, VP, operations and technology, Turner Sports, discusses the massive production, which paid off with one of the most memorable endings in the history of the tournament:

Last season, MLB Network and DirecTV teamed up to produce and distribute weekly MLB Network Showcase games in 4K/UHD. The historic production marked the first multigame package to be produced in 4K in the U.S. Susan Stone, SVP, operations and engineering, MLB Network, details the production model, which included delivering four separate feeds out of a single Game Creek Video truck: the 4K feed, HD feed, MLB.com feed, and Statcast feed:

One hot-button topic on the day’s opening panel proved to be augmented reality and virtual graphics. These virtual visuals are quickly becoming commonplace on major live game productions and inside studios as a tool to display information and stats to fans without taking them off the field or away from the desk. Davies, Sahara, and Stone address the power of augmented reality and the importance of using data efficiently to advance storytelling and inform the fans, rather than just throwing a bunch of numbers at them:

As player-tracking platforms like the NFL’s next-gen stats, MLBAM’s Statcast, and the NBA’s SportVU with STATS (the league recently signed a deal with Sportradar that will take the place of this system for 2017-18 season), deeper metrics are on the way. So how can broadcasters evaluate and use these technologies in their broadcasts and streaming shows? Aagaard, Davies, and Stone weigh in:

 

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