Referee Cam Gives Viewers Inside Look at ESPN Boxing

Fans will get a close-up view of the action during tonight’s editions of ESPN Friday Night Fights and ESPN Deportes’ Noche de Combates. The network will deploy wireless RF POV cameras on both referees for the first time in the programs’ history.

During the telecast from the Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY, referees Steve Willis and Pete Santiago will wear point-of-view cameras, which were created by 3G Wireless specifically for FNF in an effort to give viewers a first-person perspective of the ring. The cameras will be mounted on both referees using two lapel pins.

“The referee will wear the camera below his bow tie, literally double-pinned to his shirt,” says Matt Sandulli, senior coordinating producer, ESPN. “We plan to run a wire in their shirt to the battery pack/transmitter on their belt behind their backs.”

The camera is the size of a quarter; the receiver, about as big as an iPhone. The beltpack contains the transmitter; the battery pack is separate and can reside in a pocket or on a belt. The wire runs up inside the ref’s shirt, and the imager and lens are attached to the shirt through a button hole or another attachment on the collar.

“I am excited that we have the opportunity to showcase and debut it live tonight,” says ESPN Operations Manager Terri Dippolito. “This will be the first time this has ever been done and is exclusive to ESPN.”

Although the camera will be used live and during video replays, Sandulli expects that the ref cam will be used primarily during replays of key moments during the fight.

The use of the 3G wireless technology marks yet another chapter in the continued growth of referee-mounted cameras for live sports telecasts. Previously, Inertia Unlimited’s wearable POV unit has been used on HBO boxing and NBCSN’s rugby coverage, and BSI’s ref cam has been used on everything from CBS golf to MLS Soccer on ESPN.

“We are always looking to innovate and provide viewers access to things they cannot have access to themselves,” says Sandulli. “This camera will put viewers in the ring and give them a view of the fight that only a limited number of people in the world have ever seen. We’d like to thank the New York Athletic Commission and referees Steve Willis and Pete Santiago for working with us to make this happen.”

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