Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia Goes Mobile with NEP’s NCPII

When Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia looked to move out of its fixed control room in the Wells Fargo Center and into a more mobile production environment, they turned to NEP, who responded by building the state-of-the-art NCPII, a 53-ft. expando capable of handling the regional sports network’s demanding workload.

“We were very proud of the home shows that we do in our environment here in the Wells Fargo Center,” says Shawn Oleksiak, senior executive producer, live events, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “We met with NEP several times and we told them that our goal was not to just do the show that we currently do, our goal was to exceed that. Although we’re incredibly proud of the shows we’ve been doing, we always want to evolve, we always want to get better, and every day is an opportunity to do that.”

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Interior of NEP’s NCPII

Home of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sixers, the Wells Fargo Center is located within the same South Philadelphia sports complex as Citizen’s Bank Park (Phillies) and Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles) and houses CSN Philadelphia’s fixed control room.  Prior to building NCPII, the network produced Flyers, Sixers, and Phillies home games from that location – a total of 170 events each year.

“When we started discussions with Comcast Philadelphia, they revolved around the fact that we needed to create an environment that was going to allow the production teams to have the same sense of security that they have in a fixed facility from a mobile solution,” says Mike Werteen, SVP, sales and client services, NEP. “It’s one of the largest single mobile-unit infrastructures that we’ve built because of the varied specs that go between baseball for the Phillies, hockey for the Flyers, and basketball for the 76ers; there [are] unique components to each of those. Our job is to make sure that we build a solution for them that could easily be scalable for each one of those sports and be very quick to set up, because there are no set days in regional sports.”

NCPII, which launched in April, features a Grass Valley switcher, Calrec Artemis audio console, Thomson 8000 cameras, EVS XT2 replay servers, Utah Scientific router, and Chyron HyperX 3.1 graphics system. The mobile unit boasts full 1080i video and Dolby 5.1 audio capabilities.

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NCPII launched in April with the start of the Philadelphia Phillies’ season.

Working to address the hectic production demands and set-shoot-strike nature of CSN Philadelphia’s schedule, NEP programmed the router and other systems with a core set of recallable audio and video functions, allowing engineers to make show-specific modifications on the fly.

“You need to understand the components of each sport and the nuances required from a technical standpoint,” explains Werteen, of NEP’s approach to building NCPII. “You need to have a team that understands the nuances of each one of those sports and builds in a robust enough infrastructure to easily accommodate the needs of each one of those sports and be able to do it very quickly.”

In addition to providing CSN Philadelphia with more mobility (NCPII can hit the road to cover other Philadelphia sports, like college basketball), the mobile unit easily interfaces with the Wells Fargo Center studios.

“We do several world-class studio shows and the ability to have feeds coming into the truck or conduits into the truck becomes just as important as the ability to put them out of the truck,” says Oleksiak. “We’re able to interface with our studios here at the Wells Fargo Center greater than we were in the past when we were in a control room right next door.”

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South Philadelphia’s sports complex consists of Citizen’s Bank Park (foreground), Lincoln Financial Field (background, left), and Well’s Fargo Center.

According to Oleksiak, the addition of NCPII enables CSN Philadelphia to create a national network-level production at the regional level; a difference that keeps the regional-sports network competitive and benefits the viewers at home.

“From a technological standpoint, everything in this truck is an upgrade,” says Oleksiak. “Everything that we’ve been doing, [we’ve] been bringing our viewers tremendous quality television product, so the chance to improve on that, we’re always very excited about that. “Whether it’s audio, video, cameras, replay, every situation is an upgrade.”