College Football Kickoff: BTN Adds More Slo-Mo, Revamps Animation Package, and Expands BTN Tailgate

Big Ten Network will produce 40 football games and 750+ hours of programming this season

Since launching in 2007, Big Ten Network has continued to enhance its coverage of the conference’s gridiron action, adding new production elements to its game coverage, expanding its on-campus studio presence on Saturdays, and creating award-winning documentaries as part of it BTN Originals series. That evolution continues tonight, as Big Ten Network kicks off its 2019 football campaign with UMass visiting Rutgers followed by a quartet of games on Saturday.

In all, BTN will deliver more than 40 games and 750+ hours of programming over 14 weeks of the regular-season and will once again look to leverage its partnership with Fox Sports to deliver A-level coverage to Big Ten fans.

“We always strive to take advantage of the advantages that we have at BTN given our partnership with FOX Sports,” says Mark Hulsey, VP of Production and Executive Producer for BTN. “For example, [Fox Sports analysts] Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino serve as our primary replay analysts. Our graphics and overall on-air presentation has improved greatly over the years given that partnership with FOX. In the end, the viewers of BTN win as we continue to serve Big Ten fans with the most in-depth football coverage possible.” 

What’s New? More Slo-mo, New Animations, and an Expanded BTN Tailgate
Among the notable additions to BTN’s football coverage this year, the network will add more high-speed cameras to both its A and B football packages. BTN is also debuting a new animation package on its football, basketball, and studio coverage this year.

“It was time for a re-fresh and our new look fits more in line with the overall BTN brand,” says Hulsey. “In addition, we’ll be debuting a new music theme for our football coverage. The overall look and sound is much bigger and matches the high quality of games that we’ll be covering this year.”

BTN Tailgate, the network’s Saturday morning football show, will be live and on-site during a total of 15 weeks this season, including live coverage surrounding the Big Ten Championship game in December. In previous years, BTN Tailgate was only on campus for 10 weeks of conference play.

“We feel that in order to best showcase the atmosphere on campus on a college football Saturday, we need the show to be on site. We’re always looking to over-deliver to fans of our content in the best way possible. Football Saturdays are extremely important to us at BTN.”

BTN Back in the At-Home Groove
BTN was one of the earliest pioneers of the at-home-production model and now produces hundreds of live events remotely using control rooms at its Chicago headquarters.

BTN will produce the same number of at-home football games as a year ago with 14 matchups set to get the at-home treatment. Three of BTN’s six owned and operated at-home production mobile units will be dedicated to producing football this year. These vans are equipped with Grass Valley LDX cameras and 107x/80x Fuji lenses. In addition, BTN has four dedicated control rooms at its Chicago facility all equipped with Grass Valley K-Frame switchers and Evertz Dreamcatcher IP replay systems.

“Our vans are capable of producing the highest quality network football productions complete with…the latest technology,” says Hulsey.  “The improved [at-home] workflow has also allowed us to include more studio produced content on game days within our remote shows, which has really enhanced the quality of our teases and replay packages.”

As for traditional on-site football productions, BTN has once again partnered with the Mobile TV Group to the company’s 25HDX mobile unit for the A package and 23HDX for the B package.

On-Air Talent: Fresh Faces and a Welcome Return
From an on-air talent perspective, BTN has added former Ohio State All American and NFL linebacker James Laurinaitis who will join Brandon Gaudin and Elise Menaker on one of the football crews this season. In addition, Matt Millen will be returning as BTN’s lead analyst after undergoing an offseason heart transplant.

“I speak for everyone at BTN that we’re very excited about Matt Millen’s return to the booth as our top analyst after off-season heart transplant surgery,” says Hulsey. “It’s been incredible to see the progress that he’s made. To see him back in the booth on our first game at Michigan in prime time under the lights will be a memorable night for our crew.”