NBA Season Tip-Off: Fox Sports Deploys New Tech Across Key Regions
The stunning return of Lebron James to Cleveland finally reaches television tonight when the Cavaliers host the Knicks in their season opener. Naturally, James brings loads of national and global attention to the North Coast, but, locally, Cavs fans will be treated to a whole new level of TV product. Fox Sports Ohio is among selected regional networks in the Fox Sports family set to see a significant boost in production technology this season.
Each region — Fox Sports carries more than half the NBA’s local deals (17) — now enjoys specialty high-speed cameras, new backboard slow-motion cameras, and a sparkling new graphics package. That includes Fox Sports Ohio and the Cavs, who Fox knows will see a definitive spike in viewers this season.
“We’re giving them better coverage,” says Michael Connelly, SVP/executive producer, Fox Sports Networks. “We don’t want to miss anything, and we really want to give it a good feel. We met and sat down with [Cavaliers owner] Dan Gilbert and his staff and laid out how we can best broadcast Cavaliers basketball. It’s about not missing a beat and giving the talent the best tools for breaking the game down. It will be a really nice show.”
Fox Sports Southwest (Mavericks), Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket (Clippers), and Fox SportSouth (Hawks) join Ohio on the list of regionals that received new gear to supplement their productions. Included is a set of backboard cameras: the Antelope Pico Camera from Polecam, which records up to 520 frames per second in native HD. The system is based on a ⅔-in. CMOS 2K chip, according to Polecam.
The small device will be mounted on a robotic device and attached to the backboard behind the glass, shooting down at the net.
“It’s a great look through the glass as the players come up to the rim,” says Connelly, adding that the cameras are permanently installed for Cavaliers, Clippers, Mavericks, and Hawks telecasts and a remaining collection will rotate among the remaining regionals based on scheduling.
Like Fox Sports’ regional NHL coverage, the NBA teams will use Grass Valley’s new LDX XtremeSpeed 6X ultra-slow-motion–camera systems in nine of the regions. With the MLB postseason now completed, some of the high-speed cameras deployed at the World Series will be scattered among the regionals.
Another key aesthetic alteration to this year’s Fox regional productions is a completely redesigned graphics and animations package that will be used across the board. Designed by Fox Sports EVP, Graphics, Gary Hartley and the graphics team in Charlotte, NC, the new package debuted on the New Orleans Hornets’ season-opening win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
“They are Fox Sports,” says Connelly, praising the network’s graphics department. “They really make us who we are, because they are so talented.”
He also notes a philosophical change that some fans may notice. On the on-screen FoxBox this year, timeouts will be eliminated, with producers having the discretion to add it whenever they deem it necessary.
“Timeouts hardly ever come into play, and, when they do, it’s in the last few minutes of the game,” says Connelly. “We have them up there all of the time, and there’s so many of them. It doesn’t become a big storyline, so we eliminated it and gave the producers the option to use it later if they want. That really simplifies the box and makes it easier to read and gives space on top of the box to roll in game stats.”
Mobile TV Group is the truck supplier to all Fox Sports regions, with the exception of Ohio, where Lyon Video does the job.