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ESPN’s Discusses REMI ‘At-Home’ Production Workflows at NAB

April 12th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Dan Daley

During the DTV Audio Group’s event held the day before the NAB Show opened, ESPN revealed the results of its ambitious Remote Integration — aka REMI — program, which substantially reduces assets on location at sports venues and moves more of the live production workload back to the main plant at its Bristol, CT headquarters.

The REMI initiative has been applied to a number of broadcast college basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse games, as well as six MLS and eight WNBA games, for a total of 85 events since the program began in January of this year.

The allocation of broadcast assets has varied slightly by sports; college sports utilized a total of seven cameras while the professional matches used 10 cameras each. But it’s what’s not there that is most significant. Henry Rousseau, Coordinating Operations

Manager for ESPN noted that all RF microphones and cameras had been eliminated, and there are no roving interview microphones used. The staffing needed on location for production is reduced dramatically, mostly on the video side. Discrete audio is sent back to Bristol to be mixed there. Comms utilized an ADAM system, with redundancy provided by a global POTS line. “We learned from our experience at the World Cup to use VPNs for transport it back to Bristol,” he said.

Rousseau said that the model has already proven successful, reducing on-site staff by an average of 15 people per event, mainly daily hires. “This will allow us to produce more content at reduced costs,” he said. However, he acknowledged, the concept also comes with a substantial learning curve. But in light of ESPN’s overall throughput — the network’s array of channels produced 29,732 hours of broadcast sports last year across 10,752 events — that kind of mass, says Rousseau, requires the kind of streamlining that REMI can offer.