ESPN’s Five-Game Christmas Day Highlighted by NBA Finals Rematch
Warriors-Cavs game to debut Sony HDCP43 box camera
On Christmas Day, ESPN will gift NBA fans more than 13 hours of consecutive basketball action over five games, including a matchup sure to be atop any fan’s wish list: a rematch between last year’s NBA Finals teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Beginning at 11:30 a.m. with NBA Countdown, ESPN and ABC will join forces in a Christmas Day tradition that has played out for the past 15 seasons. The five-game slate begins in New York City between the Boston Celtics and Knicks at noon ET on ESPN, with the marquee matchup of Cavaliers-Warriors following at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC. In the second game of an ABC doubleheader, the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs tip off in Texas at 5:00 p.m. ET. On Christmas night, the Minnesota Timberwolves face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8:00 p.m., followed by the Los Angeles Clippers at the Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m. ET.
“Every year, when we launch our season, Christmas Day [is one of the] tentpoles for us,” says Tim Corrigan, senior coordinating producer for the NBA on ESPN. “We started preparing for this a couple months ago, just to make sure that we’re organized and ready to go… It’s a huge day for us, and a huge day for the league, so we’ve given it a lot of thought and put a lot of time into it.”
Each of the games will have at least 11 cameras, with Cleveland vs. Golden State getting an additional four to five cameras. ESPN will make use of its Intel 3D 360 replays and debut the Sony HDCP43 box camera in Cleveland, positioning the new high-frame-rate camera above the left basket. Explains Corrigan, “It’s a huge window that we know we’re going to get a great audience and we can experiment a little bit with a lot of reward and very little risk.”
For the hardcore NBA fans, ESPN plans to create several alternate viewing experiences on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. For the three ESPN games at noon ET, 8:00 p.m. ET, and 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3 will feature NBA Surround DataCenter, which shows off enhanced in-game data, stats, and information. During the ABC doubleheader at 2:30 p.m. ET and 5:00 p.m., ESPN3 will feature NBA Surround Multiview, which shows the linear feed alongside additional windows with various camera angles that ESPN selects for a more in-depth experience of the game.
ESPN will deploy a fleet of Game Creek and NEP mobile units to cover the five games. Game Creek’s Dynasty, Spirit, and Peacock trucks will be in New York, San Antonio, and Los Angles, respectively, while NEP’s EN2 will tackle Cleveland and NCP10 will travel to Oklahoma City. In Bristol, Christmas Day will be all hands on deck, with a fully staffed operation running from 11:30 a.m. until the end of the Clippers-Lakers game.
“It’s a labor of love for everyone doing it,” says Corrigan. “One of the terms we like to use is ‘be kind to the accidental fan’ because on days like this, you’re going to have people who love the NBA, who are passionate about the NBA, and want to be all over this and watch these games all day, and then you’re going to have other fans who might be joining for the first time. You want to be welcoming to that experience for them and not assume they know everything and not assume that they’re as invested as everyone else, but make them feel like [they] really do want to be part of this.”