Fox Sports Southwest Continues NBA Finals Streak With SPURS LIVE
When the Western Conference Finals pitted San Antonio against Oklahoma City, one thing was certain: Fox Sports Southwest’s championship streak would extend a fourth straight year. But before FSSW could think about the NBA Finals — the regional sports network’s eighth in 12 years — it first had to handle not one but two Western Conference Finals productions.
“When the Spurs and the Thunder were playing each other, we actually were doing side-by-side postgame shows using similar technology and philosophy,” explains FSSW Senior Executive Producer Mike Anastassiou. “The audiences are so different that you don’t have a great opportunity to cross-pollinate, because the fans are so diehard and are so interested in only their own team. But, with two control rooms and two HD studios [at network headquarters in Irving, TX], we were able to do those shows simultaneously in the same fashion.”
FSSW, home of the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and Oklahoma City Thunder (Fox Sports Oklahoma is a spinoff of FSSW), is again broadcasting a special postgame show after every game in the series. SPURS LIVE features game highlights, postgame podium press conferences, and interviews from the Spurs locker room.
Last year, FSSW introduced LiveU’s video-over-cellular transmission to its remote-production workflow. That technology has returned this year, working in tandem with a NewTek TriCaster and three on-site cameras in San Antonio (two in Miami).
Says Anastassiou, “I think we’ve perfected taking TriCasters and LiveU on location and making it look like we have a truck out there through studio integration.”
The network backhauls content from both remote locations via Level 3 Vyvx circuit to Irving, where inserts and tickers are added before the feed is sent to Fox Sports’ operations center outside Houston for distribution.
After a successful run during the regular season, FSSW has added LiberoVision, dubbed “Fox Vision,” to its NBA Finals coverage. “We rolled out that technology during the regular season, and we’ve gotten pretty good with it,” says Anastassiou. “We’re able to break down our X’s and O’s to a greater extent using Fox Vision. That, along with LiveU and the TriCaster and then integrating it to our HD studio and control room, we feel that the show looks pretty big.”
In San Antonio, FSSW continues to use its regular-season host position and Fox Sports desk on concourse level for SPURS LIVE. Show host Ric Renner and a panel of analysts break down the games from a Spurs angle.
Renner is anchoring the postgame coverage in San Antonio and Miami. FSSW Spurs play-by-play announcer Bill Land, who also travels with the team, and SPURS LIVE analysts Andrew Monaco and Richard Oliver are part of the FSSW crew.
In Miami, the lack of a host position means more flexibility for the on-air crew. “We’ll stand the guys up courtside; we’ll split them up and have someone go to the locker room,” explains Anastassiou. “[Since] we don’t have the traditional host position in Miami, we approach it more with standup positions.”
Between the two remote locations and the network’s base of operations in Irving, FSSW is deploying a staff of approximately 15 to deliver Spurs postgame coverage to the team’s fans.