Fox Sports Ends College Basketball Season in 4K HDR at Big East Tournament

Viewers get to sit in the student section with Fox Court Pass

In two days, the Big East Championship game will rock New York City between 7th and 8th Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets. Before the nets are cut at Madison Square Garden and a ticket to March Madness is punched, Fox Sports will produce the first round, quarterfinals, and semifinals in 4K HDR for the first time.

“We’re taking the leap forward in production quality and clarity by instituting 4K HDR into the broadcast. We feel that not only does it provide another outlet for our broadcast to go into and look at but it also raises the bar in terms of what the viewer at home watching on the HD side gets to see,” says Brad Cheney, VP, field operations and engineering, Fox Sports. “It’s really going to be a spectacular-looking image — not only on-air but also for how our replays look.”

30 Cameras Will Capture the Action
As productions head down the 4K HDR route, MSG is covered with 30 total cameras in carefully selected places, including two above-the-rim cameras and multiple POVs located through the glass, beneath the basket, and throughout the hallways to emphasize the drama of the tournament. Anchoring the technology are 17 Sony HDC-4300’s: 11 in 4K and six running in 1080p with 6X super-slo-mo capability (which will be upconverted to 4K HDR).

“It’s really awesome for us that the two men’s college basketball tournaments that we’re hosting between FS1 and [the Big Ten Tournament on] BTN are going to be in 4K HDR across the board,” Cheney says. “We’re really excited about being able to push the limits with our partners who take 4K and provide it to their customers.”

Second-Screen Experience on Social Media
In any conference tournament, the spirit of an inspired student section can play a huge role in a college game. With this idea in mind, Fox Sports Digital and Fox Sports University selected three students from Big East institutions to participate in the inaugural Fox Court Pass.

Game Creek Video’s Encore will house the production team for all Big East Tournament games.

Starting today during the quarterfinal matchups, Ryan Guerino (Seton Hall ’20, Graphic Design & Advertising), Dania Haughton (Villanova ’19, Communications), and Dwyght Pena (Seton Hall ’19, Sports Marketing) will give viewers at home all-access content from inside the locker room with the help of their cellphones. In addition, the trio will document the chaos of their respective student sections from the court and in the stands.

The alternative viewing option can be streamed across the @FoxSports and @CBBonFox social handles on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Split Squad in the Compound
Game Creek Video’s Encore is serving as the home of Fox’s 4K HDR production, housing both game and studio crews. At the front bench for a majority of the games is Steve Scheer, senior coordinating producer/Fox College Hoops lead game producer. For pre/postgame and halftime shows, Bardia Shah-Rais, VP, production/Fox College Hoops Pregame Show coordinating producer, is at the command.

With two teams and a historic 4K HDR production, Cheney feels comfortable with all the activity occurring inside Encore. “The versatility and firepower of Encore has provided us [with the ability to] not only do split shows before with last year’s tournament, but now, as we up the ante to 4K HDR, it’s still ready to go for this broadcast.”

All studio programming for the Big East Tournament is being handled onsite in Encore.

Although Fox Sports is producing this week’s tournament games via onsite mobile units, Fox has boosted the number of its “Home Run” productions, increasing from 45 games in 2017-18 to 60 this year.

“The bonus of doing them this year was that we did them and nobody [watching at home] noticed,” Cheney says. “That’s how integrated they’ve become into our production, to the point where people can’t tell the difference if we’re producing them via Home Run or via the site.”

Looking back on the past year, he accentuates a team effort that made Fox Sports’ 310-game schedule a successful one.

“We’ve had so many great games in the three conferences that we cover. It really comes down to the team and the day-to-day [planning] led by Sarita Meinking [director, field operations, Fox Sports]. She and her staff have provided quality support, crews, and services to make these games happen as seamlessly as possible,” he says. “From November to mid March, there’s a lot of work that goes on with a lot of games in a lot of days.”

Fox Sports’ coverage of the Big East Tournament continues on FS1 through Friday and concludes with Saturday’s championship game on Fox.