For CSN New England, It’s All in the Peacock Family for Stanley Cup Final
Comcast SportsNet New England may not be an official rights holder with the Boston Bruins, but no one would question its dedication to covering the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final this season. In addition to one-hour pre- and post-game shows throughout the Final series, extensive digital coverage on CSNNE.com, and a significant on-site production presence in both Chicago and Boston, CSNNE has one distinct advantage over other Boston sports outlets – the assets of its parent company, NBC Sports Group.
“We have worked in harmony with NBC Sports throughout the regular season, so when the playoffs arrived, this was simply a continuation and escalation of what we’ve already established,” says Len Mead, VP of Production & Programming, Comcast SportsNet New England. “We are a great resource for them with the footage, interviews, and relationships we’ve secured with the Bruins over the course of the season and we are also a platform to help promote NBC’s game telecasts.”
Riding the Wings of the Peacock
CSNNE has incorporated NBC’s army of talent into its Bruins coverage throughout the playoffs, including Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire, and Mike Milbury. In addition, CSNNE regularly incorporates the iconic NHL on NBC theme music and graphics into its telecasts to “emphasize that we are part of the NBC family of networks carrying the games,” according to Mead. NBC also shares backhauls and truck feeds, which provide CSNNE with exclusive visual elements and on-ice interviews that can’t be seen on other Boston media outlets.
It doesn’t hurt to have a friend in “enemy territory” either, as CSN Chicago has worked closely with CSNNE throughout the series to benefit both networks. Mead and company began strategizing with their Chicago compatriots during the Conference Finals, identifying talent, staff, locations, and resources that they could lend to one another in their respective cities, as well as laying out workflows for the sharing of valuable digital assets.
CSNNE has utilized one of CSN Chicago’s videographers and its direct transmission path out of the United Center. After Game 1 in Chicago, CSNNE hosted its postgame show from CSN Chicago’s set on the United Center concourse.
“For Game 1, we staged pregame at a popular Chicago tavern on Madison Ave. using a TVU [Networks transmission] pack – Third Rail Tavern – and hosted the postgame from the United Center concourse,” says Mead. “That one was especially fun since the game went to triple OT.”
In Boston, CSN Chicago has produced content from CSNNE’s Causeway street studio (across from the TD Garden) and borrowed CSNNE videographers and studio technicians.
A Trio of Transmission Paths from Sweet Home Chicago
For away games in Chicago, CSNNE is using a trio of methods to deliver content back to Boston: a CSN Chicago-provided fiber path out of the United Center, an uplink truck provided by its sister network New England Cable News (NECN), and a TVU Networks video-over-cellular transmission backpack. CSNNE has also begun using an RF camera in an effort to speed up the delivery of postgame dressing room content.
“The variety of the transmission options has really strengthened the volume and speed with which we turn around postgame sound,” says Mead. “The TVU pack has been a tremendous asset, which we first really started using when the Celtics traveled to Istanbul in October for the preseason. Now it is a standard and important part of our arsenal.”
Hego Enters the Picture, Social Media Explodes
Throughout the spring, CSNNE has begun to employ ChryonHego’s touchscreen technology during its pregame show to break down game film and provide deeper Bruins analysis.
“We’ve been using it primarily in our pregame show as a fun tool to allow Felger and Amonte to break down their thoughts on the upcoming game,” says Mead. “As far as we know, CSNNE is the only touchscreen in the market this year’s NHL Playoffs has been its coming out party.”
In addition to the rise of the Hego touchscreen, Mead has also seen CSNNE’s Twitter and other social media traffic skyrocket during the Playoffs.
“Our social media interaction has exploded during this year’s playoffs and we encourage tweets and posts from our viewers, which we incorporate on the air in every pre- and post-game show,” he says. “I would say that we have fun with our shows – we can laugh at ourselves and sometimes at the stories that emerge from the game.”
Standing Out in a Crowded Beantown Sports Market
In a crowded Boston sports market, CSNNE is always working to differentiate itself from competitors – most notably NESN. While the NBC Sports Group ties are plenty helpful, CSNNE has unleashed a variety of other editorial and production enhancements in an effort to establish itself as the top destination for fans during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup quest.
“Our network is driven by strong unvarnished opinions and thorough news coverage,” says Mead. “We have seen our greatest success in the quarter hour immediately after the game and we believe that is because New England Sports fans care about what Mike Felger and Tony Amonte have to say. We don’t inherit some of the venue and access perks of a rights holder, but we do devote significant resources to game nights so that we can turn around the quickest and highest-quality interviews, press conferences, and locker room sound in the market.”