High School Games Pose Challenges for CBS College

By Carolyn Braff
CBS College Sports Network is well acquainted with the art of getting a TV-quality production out of a non-TV-ready environment; this season’s football lineup includes broadcasts from
Carson
Newman
College, Jefferson City, TN; University of Minnesota Duluth; and
Tarleton
State University, Stephenville, TX. But on Friday nights,
CBS
College takes its expertise into a whole new environment: broadcasting high school football games from some of the nation’s powerhouse programs, none of which play in broadcast-friendly stadiums.
“These are high school venues, so there is not a lot of infrastructure in place. But we’ve made it work,” explains Patty Power, SVP of operations for CBS College Sports Network. “We’ve had some terrific match-ups, and it’s been really good television.”
For the first time this year, CBS College Sports Network teamed up with MaxPreps, its high school expertise affiliate, to produce 11 high school football games for primetime coverage on CBS College Sports Network. Sponsored by Burger King, each game is also streamed online at www.cbssports.com/cbscollegesports.
Each high school production relies on solid support from one of a range of mobile production trucks. For this season’s schedule, which includes games at high schools from
New Jersey to
Oregon,
CBS
College is leaning on Alliance Productions to fit the regional bill.
“We’re using a mix of regionalized mobile units through Alliance Productions,” Power says, noting units from CrossCreek, Lyon Video, Mira Mobile, and NCP, among other providers. “It’s a one-day set and shoot, and overall, it’s a pretty basic production.”
Five manned cameras and two POVs cover all the on-field action, supported by a four-channel EVS, three tape machines, and two record decks. Camera placement has been a challenge at some of the venues in the six games that
CBS
College has produced so far, but insufficient lighting is a much bigger problem. Additional lighting has been brought in where necessary, but finding the right person to ask has been as much trouble as bringing in the lights themselves.
“The high schools are not really structured as the colleges are, where there are facility contacts,” Power explains. “Navigating through that world and trying to find the appropriate people to work with has been one of our bigger challenges, but overall, they’ve been terrific. They’re excited about us being there.”
Even though each game is a one-day set-shoot, the CBS College Sports Network crew is at each site for upwards of 12 hours, so there is plenty of time for excitement. The crew, led by a CBS College above-the-line production team assisted by below-the-line local crews provided by Program Productions, arrives at the game site at 8 a.m. to set up for an 8 p.m. broadcast. Thus far, the long hours have been well worth the effort.
“It has turned out to be some of our best programming,” Power says. “The match-ups that we’ve had have been tremendous. There’s been a lot of talk internally as to where are we going with it, how much more are we going to do next year, that kind of thing. Everybody here has been really happy about it. We’ve gotten some good sponsorship, and it’s been a fun event for us to do.”
This week’s match-up pits Northside, Warner Robins, GA, against Lowndes, Valdosta, GA, in a fight in the Peach State. Kickoff is at 8:00 p.m. on CBS College Sports Network.