Barclays Premier League Season Three Poised To Start on NBC Sports
Tactical cameras, 5.1 audio, virtual graphics will highlight the coverage
Before the sun cracks the horizon tomorrow morning, work will already have begun in earnest at the NBC Sports facility in Stamford, CT. With the kickoff of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur (7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN), season 3 of the Barclays Premier League (BPL) on the networks of NBCUniversal will be under way, and it’s a critical one, marking the final year in the current three-year U.S.-rights cycle.
With 760 matches under its belt, the NBC Sports soccer team is confident of its ability to cover the BPL at a high level.
“Our first year was all about discovering how we were going to do it, our second year was all about innovation, and our third year now has really been about reacting,” says Pierre Moossa, lead soccer producer, NBC Sports. “We know how to do our jobs; we feel very comfortable in the way that we cover the league. So, with an exciting season ahead of us, our goal is really to be prepared to react to whatever the major storylines are and cover them in a proper fashion.”
NBC has a bunch of new production enhancements up its sleeve, some of which are still in the works and may not hit viewers’ screens this opening weekend but will gradually work their way in over the next month or so.
To start, Premier League Productions is providing NBC with tactical camera feeds for all matches this year. The feature was available on selected matches last season, and NBC used the feeds for studio analysis and made them available as a viewing option when streaming a match on NBC Sports Live Extra. Graphically, NBC will also begin using Premier League Productions’ moving headshots to present a new-look Starting XI prior to kickoff.
NBC will spend the first month of the season testing out 5.1-surround audio, with the hopes of integrating that into broadcasts as early as September.
“Until we feel comfortable that we can properly broadcast it at a very high level, we are going to hold off and stick with stereo,” says Moossa. “but that’s what we’ll be testing over the next month. When the technical staff feels ready to debut it, we will. Then the transition will be very smooth.”
Working with the on-set ChyronHego touchscreen just got easier for the talent team of Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe, and Kyle Martino. Microsoft Surface tablets can now be used to operate the touchscreen technology, serving as a remote of sorts for the larger screen. The production crew is also working with Ross Video to configure the in-studio jib to place virtual graphics on set with the talent
“That’s not exactly where we want it to be just yet, so we will keep testing,” says Moossa. “Having virtual graphics just for the sake of having it is not our goal. Our goal is to have information that will enhance and complement the studio conversation.”
On the programming side, NBC Sports has spent the summer building a robust collection of documentaries to fill out its Premier League Download series. Viewers can expect an in-depth look at AFC Bournemouth, one of the league’s newly promoted teams, and a one-on-one interview with Chelsea manager Jose Maurino by Roger Bennett.
Barclays Premier League coverage on the networks of NBCUniversal will also be bolstered by the addition of a weekly match on USA Network, beginning this Saturday with Everton-Watford at 10 p.m. ET. All matches are also available on the Premier League Extra Time bonus TV package and streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra. All games will be preceded and followed by Premier League Live pre/postmatch shows.