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Big West Conference Taps Broadcast Management Group for Championship Events for ESPN+

16/09/2021

Big West Conference Taps Broadcast Management Group for Championship Events for ESPN BMG's Las Vegas-based centralized production hub will house live-production operations By Brandon Costa, Director of Digital

Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 3:11 pm

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In collegiate athletics, mass production and distribution of live coverage of sports events isn't just for the Power Five anymore. These days, every collegiate conference and its member institutions are looking to deliver live game coverage to not just selected sports but all of its sports.

That's what made this such an important summer for the Big West Conference.

In July, the Big West announced, in addition to a new logo, a key distribution deal with ESPN under which more than 600 Big West events - including numerous conference championships in both men's and women's sports - will stream on ESPN .

While production of many of the live games will be the responsibility of the schools, the conference office is tasked with the live coverage of 13 conference championship events hosted throughout the academic year.

It's a great time to be at the Big West, says Big West Conference Commissioner Dan Butterly. There's a significant number of changes going on here with our operations, our office locations, our staff. [The ESPN partnership] provides our institutions the means to go from producing 60 regular-season games and championship events a year to 600 and above. The ESPN package having an ESPN name to it definitely helps the distribution opportunities for our institutions. We're excited to join that family.

To meet the production demands on those championships, the conference has turned to Broadcast Management Group, a full-scale production-services company that is building up REMI (or at-home) production-operations hubs across the country, including its new crown jewel in Las Vegas.

Broadcast Management Group will produce Big West Conference championship events for ESPN from its Las Vegas production hub.

[At-home production] is where the future's going, says Butterly. The Broadcast Management Facilities, and what they've got on the Las Vegas Strip, was amazing to walk through. The things that they're able to do, the technologies that they're able to utilize were immaculate. We're really excited at what they bring and what they're able to do. It really is a benefit for us.

In addition to live coverage of many of these events, BMG will provide studio-show and highlight-show coverage, all originating from BMG's Las Vegas-based production hub. BMG officially launched a sports division in January and has assembled a team of about 20 directors, editors, producers, graphics and playback operators, and technical directors.

Our approach to production is centralized technology and decentralized staffing, says Todd Mason, CEO, Broadcast Management Group. That is what a lot of the sports networks have been doing for a number of years now. Our model is way beyond [a response to] COVID. It's being able to put the camera [operators] on the field, the commentators at the game, but then bringing all the video signals back to our cloud broadcast center.

It's almost irrelevant as to where it is, he continues, because it's the cloud center. The rest of the control-room team can be either there or in various locations around the country. It allows us to efficiently leverage our staff nationwide, reduce the cost of producing an event, while maintaining the highest quality and booking the best people.

The first championship broadcast from this collaboration will be the 2021 Big West Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships hosted by UC Davis. The full schedule is as follows:

Men's and Women's Cross Country: 30-minute recap show (Oct. 29)

Women's Soccer: Live finals coverage (Nov. 4-7)

Men's Soccer: Live finals coverage (Nov. 4-13)

Men's and Women's Basketball: Live coverage of all games (March 8-12, 2022)

Women's Golf: 30-minute recap show (April 10-12, 2022)

Men's and Women's Tennis: Live finals coverage (April 28-May 1, 2022)

Beach Volleyball: Live finals coverage (April 29-30, 2022)

Men's Golf: 30-minute recap show (May 1-3, 2022)

Men's and Women's Track & Field: 60-minute recap show (May 6-14, 2022)

With many events taking place on the campuses of Big West institutions, both Butterly and Mason note, there will be plenty of collaboration between the schools and BMG.

We have our technology infrastructure, so that we can do everything turnkey in-house for them, says Mason. But we also have a systems-integration division that designs and builds facilities. That's where we can partner with the universities to support them as they're upgrading their own facilities.

That will also manifest itself in opportunities for students interested in learning live sports production.

That's one of the things that we're both very interested in: helping to train the next generation in our industry, says Mason. Our industry is aging, in the sports world particularly. A lot of people have been doing it for a long time, and some are starting to age out. We need to look at the next generation of talent. We're able to work with their students and help them, train them in real-life, real-world production experiences. We look to work with the universities on technology. We look to work with them on helping to train their students on how to be good broadcasters and to tell the story of the Big West universities.
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/09/16/big-west-conference-taps-broadc...
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