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Wilder vs. Fury II: ESPN, Fox Sports Team Up on Outsize Boxing Production in Vegas

22/02/2020

Wilder vs. Fury II: ESPN, Fox Sports Team Up on Outsize Boxing Production in Vegas Fight marks the largest boxing show ever for ESPN, which is overseeing the operation By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Friday, February 21, 2020 - 3:03 pm

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Saturday's highly anticipated PPV fight between undefeated heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder and unbeaten lineal champ Tyson Fury isn't just the biggest heavyweight bout in recent memory; it also marks the biggest boxing production in network history for ESPN.

I think, without a shadow of a doubt, this is definitely the biggest, ESPN Remote Operations Manager Kim Bloomstone says of the operation in Las Vegas. This is our Super Bowl for boxing. There's no question about that.

ESPN's production at Wilder-Fury II features a JITAcam, an overhead mic array, a Flycam and much more.

Although ESPN and Fox Sports are collaborating on extensive Wilder-Fury II onsite studio coverage throughout the week and on fight night, ESPN is handling the entire technical setup and execution of the production at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday.

ESPN has rolled out 38 cameras (more than ever deployed for an ESPN boxing production), a 4DReplay system for 360-degree replays, a unique microphone array over the ring, and a horde of other tech toys to bring the ultra-high-profile fight to millions of viewers around the world.

Fight Week: A Close Collaboration on The Strip

Since the fight is a joint venture between Top Rank Boxing, which co-promotes Fury and has a rights deal with ESPN, and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), which promotes Wilder and has a rights deal with Fox, Saturday's PPV fight will be a cross-promotion between ESPN+ and Fox Sports.

Max Kellerman (left) interviews Deontay Wilder as part of ESPN's fight-week programming from the MGM Grand in Vegas.

With that in mind, the ESPN and Fox Sports production teams have collaborated closely on fight-week shows leading up to Saturday, and the on-air talent is a mix from both networks. ESPN and Fox Sports have also shared preproduced elements from the preview programming for all shows across both networks. In addition, ESPN and Fox joined forces to develop a broadcaster-agnostic logo and fresh graphics package for the PPV presentation.

In addition to covering the ceremonial arrival of both fighters at the MGM Grand lobby on Tuesday, both ESPN2 and FS1 (as well as ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes) broadcast the Final Press Conference on Wednesday and will carry the Official Weigh-In later today at the arena.

ESPN's First Take aired live from this boxing-ring-style set inside the MGM Grand on Thursday and Friday.

ESPN has erected a studio set styled as a boxing ring at the MGM Grand near the KA theater, where SportsCenter on the Road (Tuesday-Sunday), Max on Boxing (Tuesday and Thursday at MGM, Wednesday and Friday from the arena), and First Take (Thursday-Friday) are producing shows throughout the week.

According to ESPN Senior Operations Specialist Joe Rainey, the broadcaster is using the small amount of single-mode fiber available at the MGM Grand to connect the casino set with the main truck compound at the arena, where studio shows are being produced from a control room inside NEP NCP 10 B unit.

We built in a lot of setup time since it's such a big [event] with so many different pieces, says Bloomstone. We parked trucks Saturday morning and had a two-day compound build, running as much cable as we could, powering the trucks up, interconnecting everything, and making sure it all worked as it should. We ran cable into the casino to the boxing-ring set location for Tuesday, and then we got the arena released to us [that afternoon], so we hit the ground running for setup in there.

Fox Sports has brought the FS1 studio show Speak for Yourself to the MGM Sports Book this week in advance of Wilder-Fury II.

For its part, Fox Sports has brought the FS1 studio show Speak for Yourself to Las Vegas, broadcasting from the MGM Sports Book Wednesday through Friday (including interviews with Fury, Wilder, and a mix of ESPN and Fox boxing analysts). The Wilder-Fury matchup marks just the latest chapter in Fox Sports' continuing partnership with PBC, which includes 10 events on Fox, 12 on FS1, and four or five PPVs per year.

We're excited for this fight because it has elevated the profile of boxing in general, and we've been able to promote it on an incredible level in the biggest sporting events like the Super Bowl and Daytona 500, says Bill Wanger, EVP, head of programming and scheduling, Fox Sports. It continues the evolution of our boxing program with PBC, where we're mounting a charge to bring boxing back to the masses and create mainstream stars out of these fighters.

Fight Night: An Epic Production of an Epic Match

When the PPV begins at 9 p.m. on Saturday night, the ESPN production team will have a bevy of production tools at their disposal. Among the most intriguing are a pair of new bumper cam POV systems developed in-house by ESPN and installed in two corners of the ring. The units are buried in the mat and feature a Marshall lipstick camera with a wide-angle lens and a stabilized mount.

ESPN and Fox will combine to host plenty of prefight programming from inside MGM Grand Garden Arena.

It is stabilized so that there's not a lot of bounce - in particular when the fighters hit the mat [after a knockdown], says Lynne West, senior operations producer, ESPN. It's totally home-grown, and we've been using it for a couple of fights. We're continuing to develop it, and it's still a work in progress, but we're really excited to have it in the corners for this fight. It gives us a different angle shooting up at the fighters, and we are able to [capture] them coming down perfectly whe
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2020/02/21/wilder-vs-fury-2-espn-fox-sport...
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