NBC Sports Group Drops In For Liverpool-AS Roma Match at Fenway Park
There will be a pitch tonight at Fenway Park. Only not the kind you’re thinking of
If you needed any more evidence that soccer has taken over the U.S. this summer, look no further than tonight in Boston when NBC Sports Group will be on hand to cover two European powers squaring off on one of America’s most fabled baseball diamonds.
Liverpool of the Barclays Premier League take on AS Roma of the Italian league Serie A in a friendly dubbed “Football at Fenway” Wednesday at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.
The broadcast will be a fun change of pace for NBC Sports Group, which carries the entire Barclays Premier League season this year beginning on August 16, but takes the preproduced World Feed from UK-based Premier League Productions. Now, NBC gets to bring its own gear and crew to produce a matchup between two top-flight football clubs.
“Its neat in that the roles are reversed,” says Pierre Moossa, a lead producer on NBC Sports’ Premier League coverage who will direct the game tonight at Fenway. “We’re now the World Feed for all of our friends out in Europe. Having a been a broadcaster who has been dependent on a World Feed, we now understand those responsibilities and the need to reciprocate the favors because they provide us with such high-quality broadcasts. Its our turn now to reciprocate that kindness. From that standpoint, its been pretty neat.”
Working out of Game Creek Video Liberty, NBC will deploy 16 cameras throughout the ballpark. 13 on the game (including a jib, a super slow-mo, and an RF Steadicam); three for an on-field studio set that will be used for pre-, halftime, and post-match coverage.
In order to prepare for the obvious challenges that come with broadcasting a soccer match from a building that was designed for baseball over a century ago, NBC personnel came up to Boston for a site survey in the middle of June and spent two-and-a-half hours on Monday finalizing camera positions. While Moussa admits the camera locations are not optimal for shooting a football match, there were no major snags and he doesn’t foresee any issues in viewing angles.
From a storytelling perspective, Moussa – who will direct the game alongside game producer Shaw Brown (the network’s lead MLS producer) and studio producer Adam Littlefield (who produces Premier League studio coverage during the season) – notes there are numerous angles to cover, from the on-the-field action of previewing the season for both clubs involved, to portraying the pageantry of the unique event and it’s setting.
“The key word is balance,” says Moussa. “It’s a true balance. We have a philosophy when we’re doing any of our shows: what’s the most important thing at this moment? That’s what we should be doing.”
NBC Sports Group is, of course, no stranger to broadcasting soccer as it has done so for Major League Soccer since 2012. Tonight, the best of its Premier League and its MLS production teams will work together in one building.
“It’s fantastic,” says Moussa. “Its nice to see all of the worlds colliding here at Fenway.”