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LTN Global To Provide Transmission Services for Conference USA 2020 Men's, Women's Basketball Tourneys


LTN Global To Provide Transmission Services for Conference USA 2020 Men's, Women's Basketball Tourneys Under the deal, the vendor will be back in 2021 and, potentially, in 2022 By Kristian Hernandez, Associate Editor

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - 1:00 pm

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As the college basketball season will come slowly to an end over the next few weeks, Conference USA faces one of the most logically challenged endeavors of the entire basketball calendar. On March 11-14, its best 24 basketball teams (12 men's and 12 women's) will square off at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, TX, for their respective championships. To accomplish such a feat, the conference has entered an agreement under which LTN Global will supply transmission services not only for this tournament on ESPN and Stadium but also for next year's and possibly in 2022.

We're providing a type of production that we're calling LTN Direct, which is a traditional, onsite direct production, says Colin Moran, director, product management, LTN Global. What makes this tournament interesting and unique is that, at The Star, they basically put two courts right next to each other, so there are games happening at the same time. We've been doing this for the past couple of years, so we have a longstanding relationship with the conference.

Sowing the Seeds: A Production Bond That Started in 2014

2020 isn't the first time that the two parties have worked together. The working relationship goes back to the midway point of the past decade, when the conference's championship tournament tipped off in 2014.

Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, TX, will host the Conference USA Men's and Women's Basketball Championships March 11-14.

At the time, American Sports Network [then the conference's broadcast partner] partnered with LTN to install transmission equipment into all of our schools as a cost-saving measure, says Jordan Foreman, director, multimedia, Conference USA. They knew that they had reliable transmission services and wouldn't have to rent a satellite truck. After ASN [was folded into] Stadium, the equipment was still there for them and all of our other TV partners to use.

From LTN's perspective, a tournament being held in the same venue for the third year in a row has allowed the provider to strengthen and solidify a plan that allows a lot of room for error.

In Year 1, says Moran, we looked at the plot [of the venue] with the in-house engineering department to figure out if we can cross-connect some cables to get some drops here and there when we needed to orient our cameras for basketball. We have it down to a science since this is the third year that we'll be at this arena.

Two at a Time: Detailed Planning Overcomes Logistical Hurdles

Although a handful of the 22 total games on the tournament slate (11 men's contests including the quarterfinals and 11 women's contests including the semifinals) will be done in the traditional one-at-a-time pattern, 16 will be played at the same time. To handle this double-barreled, two-court action, LTN has worked closely with Dallas Cowboys personnel to develop an intricate plan to keep track of who owns what inside the facility.

With two games happening simultaneously on separate courts, LTN is helping the conference navigate difficult logistical waters.

The venue is natively set up for football since it's the practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys. It has unique wiring, with the courts [extending from each side of the 50-yard line], says Moran. The employees at The Star are great to work with, but [it's] difficult to know where the in-house cables are running to. [Having gone over the plots with in-house engineering,] we make very in-depth input sheets about where in-house cabling is.

As the complex plan moved toward its current state, LTN involved outside vendors to supply the cabling needed to produce this type of event.

We rented some wiring from Bexel and ran it into the venue. CBS will be taking it out since they will be the last one onsite [after the finals], he adds. We have LTN transmission devices already installed in there with four redundant paths, so that makes the process pretty seamless.

Not only does a sturdy and organized foundation of transmission paths help with the execution of the digital broadcasts, but it also helps LTN check off other duties on its to-do list.

Not only are we trying to produce high-quality broadcast productions, says Moran, but there are also a lot of other responsibilities: [for example,] what the game officials need, what feeds need to go to what specific TVs, etc. We put a skilled project manager on these bigger tournaments that we do, not only to have everything documented but also to share [our plan] with the internal and external vendors to make sure that they know what equipment and cabling are ours.

At-Home Help: LTN Headquarters Saves the Conference Some Cash

Saving money is a driving factor in Conference USA's decision to go with LTN. For this massive undertaking, every Conference USA employee will make the 20-minute drive to the complex, including the three full-time employees and intern on Foreman's multimedia team. A fair number (around 70%) of LTN's crew members will be onsite in Frisco, filling production roles ranging from directing and producing to engineering and tech management inside the company's Lance and NETH production trucks.

LTN Global's Colin Moran (second from right) and his team will push out the final product to outlets like ESPN and Stadium from LTN's Lance and NETH production trucks.

Despite the all-hands-on-deck approach, though, cost-efficient procedures will also be in place to leverage resources located 491 miles to the north of the stadium.
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