YES Network To Produce Simultaneous Broadcasts of Nets Playoff Game, Yankees–Red Sox
Woody Freiman and Mike Webb have seen it all in their long and storied careers in sports television. But that doesn’t mean a night like tonight doesn’t still give them a buzz of excitement.
In one of the busiest nights in the 12-year history of the YES Network, the RSN’s talent and production teams will produce live remote and studio coverage for Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston and Game 2 of the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round NBA Playoff Series at the Toronto Raptors.
“As a YES employee, it’s very exciting, and it really gives you an adrenaline rush that two big audiences are going to be watching at the exact same time,” says Freiman, VP, production and programming, YES Network, where he has worked since its launch in 2002. He worked with Webb at ABC Sports in the ’80s, when ABC would produce up to eight regional college football games out of one studio on fall Saturdays. “This isn’t anything new, but it’s equally exciting just because the resources we have on a regional level are not the same as what you see at a national network.”
Between the two game sites and the network’s studio in Stamford, CT, YES will be deploying nearly all of its production and on-air talent. The live-broadcast day begins at 3 p.m. ET with the live simulcast of Michael Kay’s ESPN Radio show, which Kay will host from Fenway Park with co-host Don La Greca back home in New York. That will lead directly into Yankees PreGame at 6:30 before throwing to the game — which will air on WWOR-TV Secaucus, NJ — at 7 p.m. Immediately following Yankees PreGame, the Stamford studio will swing over to Nets PreGame at 7 p.m. before going to the Nets game in Toronto at 7:30 p.m.
From there, the schedule becomes an evolving organism. Nets Halftime will air on YES, and then, pending when each game ends, postgame coverage will be handled as it comes. Freiman and Webb expect that the Nets game will end first, meaning that postgame coverage will begin with the Nets and then evolve to the Yankees as their game ends and Nets coverage is capped off.
“We’re very fortunate that, from the day we launched, we collected a talented group of people that — to use a sports analogy — hit the curveball well,” says Webb, VP, broadcast operations, YES Network. “They adjust on the fly pretty well, and that’s the key here. We have to be able to adjust. Basketball has a roof and a clock, so you have an idea of how long it’s going to take. Baseball — especially Yankees–Red Sox — who knows?”
Such a crowded night comes with obvious logistical challenges. YES, which produces its own full shows on the road, has sent its primary home-production truck, Game Creek Video’s Dynasty, to Boston to cover Yankees–Red Sox. Through the NBA’s visiting-broadcaster program, the Raptors have supplied YES with Dome Productions’ Horizon for the Nets telecast.
Finding camera operators for Nets-Raptors added another layer of challenges. Freiman points out that many of the top camera operators in the Toronto area are working the NHL Playoffs for TSN and CBC. As a result, to supplement the crew, YES had to send more American talent across the border than it normally would have.
Broadcasting simultaneous games does not mean that YES Network will, in any way, be dialing back its production elements. The Nets broadcast will feature its standard regular-season complement of cameras and will feature an expanded tape room. The Yankees telecast will receive the enhanced coverage typically seen on any Red Sox game, which includes, among other things, the use of the YES Mo super-slow-motion system.
The YES Network currently owns two YES Mo units, both used on Yankees games throughout the season. During overlap of the NBA season, however, one of the YES Mo units stays with the Nets during home games at Barclays Center.
Studio On-Air: Bob Lorenz, Jack Curry, John Flaherty
Studio Producer: Jared Boshnack
Game On-Air: Michael Kay, David Cone, Al Leiter
Game Producer-Director: Bill Boland, Jon Wilson
Studio On-Air: Chris Shearn, Donny Marshall
Game On-Air: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel
Game Producer-Director: Frank DiGraci, Michael Cooney
Studio Producer: Josh Isaac
John Purcell will direct all of the studio productions for both Nets and Yankees.