CBS Sports gives TV viewers an inside look at a PGA production

By Ken Kerschbaumer

CBS Sports last week successfully experimented with split-screen coverage during the John Deere Classic PGA tournament that allowed viewers at home to see the intricate dance that is a televised golf production.

“It was [CBS Sports Executive Vice President] Tony Petitti’s idea,” says Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports senior vice president of operations and production. “The tournament takes place during a slow period in the summer and it doesn’t have the biggest field so he thought it would be a great way to draw a little more interest.”

Gary McCord hosted the behind-the-scenes look with audio and feeds from two hand-held cameras sent back to New York City where a separate production team cut the action. The broadcast was an hour long.

“It was interesting to see production guys used to putting others on air become the air,” says Aagaard. “[Lead Producer] Lance Barrow and [Director] Steve Milton were the stars.”

While ESPN has done live behind-the-scenes broadcasts of college football games and SportsCenter this is the first time it was offered on the same channel simultaneously with the event coverage.

Of course, the production crew was cognizant of not getting in the way of the actual production. The replay and graphics areas, for example, were off limits.

Aagaard says he believes the one-time experiment will make a return sometime in the future. “Next time we’ll do a couple of thing differently,” he says. “We might add a camera or two like an unmanned camera so people can move around a little easier.” He also says a look at the audio mixing process would also be a nice touch as well.

“The success here really opens up the chance to do this for different sports,” adds Aagaard.

With continued advances in both broadband penetration and digital compression getting that behind-the-scenes look out to viewers is easier than ever. Along with offering it up at Sportsline a secondary digital TV channel, for example, could be a perfect way to give viewers another reason to tune in.