College Q&A: Analysts Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr on How Production Elements Help Analyze NCAA Tournament

Production is becoming a bigger part of how sports-television analysts do their job. Be it camera angles, the telestrator, or advanced graphics, production elements are key to educating viewers and taking them deeper into the game. Analysts who best utilize these tools tend to rise to the top among fans.

In advance of today’s second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, SVG sat down with the analysts who will sit alongside play-by-play man Jim Nantz during CBS’s coverage of the Final Four and the National Championship Game, CBS’s Clark Kellogg and Turner Sports’ Steve Kerr, to discuss their favorite production elements and what additions they would like to see in the future.

Are there any specific elements that CBS uses that you like and have helped you do your job better?

Clark Kellogg

Clark Kellogg

Clark Kellogg: There’s a couple of things that I love. I love when we have the robo cams above the basket because it gives us a unique look. Even for telestrating purposes, it gives you a nice, different dynamic. I always enjoy when I can [see from overhead], because you can see things develop a little better. That camera is really neat; you get some nice shots. That shot of the ball hanging on the rim [in the final play of the regular-season finale between Michigan and Indiana] was phenomenal. You can get other looks of some backdoor plays, [which] are really nice to be able to educate the viewer.

The Eye Tracker technology we use is basically a computerized telestrator. I will talk with our associate directors about things that I’d like to show the viewer and use as a [teaching] tool. Then they’ll pull the play and actually diagram it by computer, and then I can talk over it, as opposed to going through the live telestrator, which I enjoy doing as well.

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr: I like the up-above camera angle when we’re trying to explain strategy. It’s not ideal for viewers to see a whole lot of that camera, but, when we can show a play that really develops, like a good screen or a good cut, it gives you a good vantage point to understand what’s happening in the game.

Is there anything in the way of camera angles or graphics that you would like to see happen?
Kerr:
With graphics, there’s so much information out there, and it’s tricky because you want to make your graphics easy to understand but you also want to evolve. So, for example, pace of play varies from one team to the next, and yet we use points allowed as our measuring stick a lot of times for defense, but, if a team just plays really slow, it doesn’t mean that their defense is great.

There’s a lot of really good metrics that I would like to get into the telecast, and we’re trying to figure out how to do it. Points-per-possession is a great stat that tells you if you’re efficient either offensively or defensively. The problem is, 90% of your viewers are at home looking at points-per-possession and going, ‘what does that even mean?’ So I think the next step in basketball graphics-wise is trying to take this glut of information that we now have at our fingertips and making it explainable and putting it into a telecast without its being confusing. That’s a challenge.

So basketball sabermetrics, basically?
Kerr:
Yes, but the problem with graphics is, generally you put up a graphic for three seconds and, if you have to sit there and decipher the graphic, then it’s counterproductive. So that may be one of those that you use in the studio [and] allow the viewer to really look at [while] you explain. But, during the game itself, it’s tough to use some of that quantifiable stuff.