ESPN, NBA TV Continue Close Partnership at NBA Draft

Networks combined efforts included 150 production personnel and more than 20 cameras at Barclays Center

For the third year in a row, the NBA Draft called the Barclays Center home as NBA TV and ESPN worked closely together to give NBA fans across the country and around the world (and in the Center itself) plenty of information via Vizrt graphics, a touchscreen, more than 20 cameras, and even a Flycam and two RF cameras. Between the two entities, more than 150 production personnel were on hand.

Lee Kalinsky of ESPN says the network and NBA work together well during the season and the NBA draft.

Lee Kalinsky of ESPN says the network and NBA work together well during the season and the NBA draft.

“The flexibility of RF is tremendous as we have two of them this year, including an RF Steadicam,” says Lee Kalinsky, technical manager, ESPN. “There is also an overhead robotic camera from Fletcher as well as a couple of Marshall robotic POV cameras on the stage that show the NBA Commissioner coming up to the podium and also in the Nets locker room, as their war room is here.”

Kevin Dobstaff, SVP, entertainment and activation, NBA, says the big change this year is that the NBA Draft set was moved back five or six feet, a move that improved the sight lines for fans and opens up more room on the floor for potential first round draft picks. More than 8,000 tickets were sold to the Draft.

“When the Draft was held at the Theater in Madison Square Garden we could maybe squeeze in 15 guys, and for the past two years here we could get 16 guys on the floor,” says Dobstaff. “But now, we can fit 20.”

Moving the stage back compressed the backstage area and also required a backstage photo area for draftees to move elsewhere in the Center, but it was a win for fans and TV viewers alike.

The NBA’s Kevin Dobstaff says the stage this year was moved back to open up better sight lines for fans and more room for draftees on the floor.

The NBA’s Kevin Dobstaff says the stage this year was moved back to open up better sight lines for fans and more room for draftees on the floor.

While ESPN produced its show out of Game Creek Video’s Liberty production unit, the NBA TV production relied on the Barclays Center’s control room and its team, led by Logan Meier, senior director, facilities presentation, Barclays Center. NBA TV had six cameras at its disposal — two on the set, three handhelds, and a camera located up higher. The NBA also was able to grab feeds from ESPN if needed.

“We’re working closely with ESPN to make sure the production is efficient and the sound in here works for them and there is balanced audio,” adds Dobstaff. “And our focus is on the live in-arena experience while ESPN can make sure the broadcast feels right.”

Kalinsky concurs: “The NBA is a great partner on all of our shows and we work well together.”

Just last year the NBA revamped the set to incorporate digital signage and, this year, ESPN made use of a touchscreen to add an additional level of graphics support to the broadcast. Powered by Vizrt graphics engines from Reality Check, ESPN also was able to roll in some virtual graphics over the live video.

ESPN’s RF cameras are provided by CP Communications while Bexel, VER, and Reality Check provide additional support and Game Creek Video’s Liberty production unit is located onsite for ESPN’s production. There are also three transmission paths to ESPN’s Digital Center in Bristol, CT, including two fiber paths and a satellite path via a Mobile Satellite Connections truck. Encoding service provider DTAGS is also on site for transmission needs.