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Tech Focus: Sports & Entertainment Production - In Convergence, Two Massive Worlds Share Venues and Infrastructure

09/07/2024

Tech Focus: Sports & Entertainment Production - In Convergence, Two Massive Worlds Share Venues and Infrastructure Music is the connective tissue between the two domains By Dan Daley, Audio Editor

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 - 10:07 am

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The Super Bowl was once the singular benchmark for the intersection of sports and entertainment, both live and on television. But lately, it has had a lot more to compare itself to.

For instance, this year's NFL Draft included performances by rappers Big Sean and Bazzi, countering last year's event featuring rockers Fall Out Boy and M tley Cr e. The 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville offered a quintet of country performers, including Brothers Osborne and Jo Dee Messina; this year, five-time Grammy Award-winner Shania Twain performed during the Stanley Cup Final series. In September, at Nashville's Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, rock band Daughtry and country artist Riley Green will compete with the roar of the F1 engines.

The phenomenon is global. At the 2023 UEFA Champions League Final Kickoff Show, for instance, Nigerian Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Burna Boy was co-headliner at the Atat rk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul; the previous year's show at the Stade de France was topped by Camila Cabello. Meanwhile, the Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies have come to rival events like the Eurovision Song Contest and the Grammy Awards themselves.

PepsiCo VP, Global Brand Marketing, Eric Melis, who oversees the brand relationship between UEFA and Pepsi (the Super Bowl's halftime sponsor for a decade until Apple took over in 2023), told the UK-based Sport Industry Group last year, It's no secret that the lines between sport and popular culture are rapidly blurring. At an ever-increasing rate, we're seeing the often-segmented worlds of music, fashion, art, and sport collide, [which] presents us with an opportunity to truly double down on our work in the sport and music crossover.

Melding Sports and Music Audio specialist Michael Abbott: Stadiums and arenas are now built as television studios to produce both sports and music.

On a more visceral level, live and broadcast sports increasingly share infrastructure and workflows with touring and live-streamed music. Michael Abbott, whose career includes supervising the audio for Grammy Awards telecasts on CBS for 39 years and for The Voice for 12 seasons (plus managing the sound for the Commission on Presidential Debates in 2004, 2008, and 2012), opines that both sports and entertainment have entered an era in which spectacle drives production, making their convergence both natural and necessary.

Nothing can feel like just a game or a concert anymore, he says. Everything has to be an event. Stadiums and arenas are now built as television studios to produce both sports and music. The content goes up on huge video walls and through massive sound systems well before the game starts and well after it ends.

The same production technology, such as replay systems, is often used for both sports and entertainment events. Abbott has even applied some of sports' audio tricks to awards shows: he has deployed the three-microphone speed-shot array used in motorsports to capture a sort of Doppler effect of the crowd noise as the cameras surround-pan award-show nominees just before the winners are announced.

He encounters challenges as athletes find themselves on the stage almost as often as on the field. Rehearsing the sound he would supervise for the NHL Draft event at The Sphere in Las Vegas in late June, he realized that athletes don't expect the disorienting effect of the massive venue's 1,200-ms delay.

They don't want to wear ears' because they're not used to them in the arena, Abbott says, referring to the wireless in-ear monitors that have replaced monitor speakers in many applications. They don't understand the effect of the latency on the media plane in the room. It's a battle sometimes.

The athletes are adjusting rapidly, however. In the ballpark, MLB outfielders are learning to wear in-ear IFBs and lavaliere microphones during play, chatting in real time with announcers in the booth.

Venue Sound Stadiums and arenas are being designed as both entertainment and sports venues. Considered the first stadium show of the rock era, the Beatles' 1965 U.S. tour included stops at the NY Mets' Shea Stadium and the Chicago White Sox's Comiskey Park. In the 1970s, stadiums and arenas began to regularly share their turf with music concerts as the crowds got bigger, the sound got louder, and the pyro became more explosive.

The stakes have changed considerably since then. Los Angeles-based Oak View Group, an entertainment- and sports-facilities company backed by private-equity giant Silver Lake - which was cofounded by Irving Azoff, uber-manager for such artists as the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Van Halen - owns and operates numerous sports/entertainment venues, including Baltimore's CFG Bank Arena and Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena, home to the NHL's Kraken and the WNBA's Seattle Storm. (It also owns two of the venue and touring industry's leading trade publications, Venues Now and Pollstar.)

These days, new and renovated sports venues have to be multipurpose facilities, particularly as funding models have shifted from state and local financing and rely more on revenues derived from concerts and other non-sports events. Their PA systems have to follow suit: they need to offer high metrics on STI (Speech Transmission Index) or STIPA (Speech Transmission Index of Public Address Systems) scales for speech intelligibility, offer full-range-frequency reproduction for music, and interface installed sound systems with touring systems - another way sports and entertain
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/07/09/tech-focus-sports-entertainment...
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