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ESPN Rides Wave of Women's-Hoops Momentum Into WNBA Draft Production at Brooklyn Academy of Music

12/04/2024

ESPN Rides Wave of Women's-Hoops Momentum Into WNBA Draft Production at Brooklyn Academy of Music The broadcaster will deploy two onsite sets, 15 cameras at the historic theater By Jason Dachman, Editorial Director, U.S.

Friday, April 12, 2024 - 10:03 am

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The next chapter in the Caitlin Clark era begins with Monday's WNBA Draft in Brooklyn, and ESPN is marking the occasion with its largest production for the event to date. With fans in the stands for the first time in years and more attention on the Draft than ever before following a historic NCAA Women's Final Four, ESPN has big plans for Monday night's festivities at the historic Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

We look to ride that momentum [from the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament] straight into Monday night with our WNBA Draft, says Sara Gaiero, VP, production, ESPN. From a coverage perspective, we have a healthy complement that we're bringing to [BAM] to help us document the event in terms of cameras and [production elements]. The hope is that we can capture the beauty of what the theater brings and incorporate that into our overall coverage, because it will be unique and different.

Beginning at 7 p.m. ET, WNBA Countdown will air live from the WNBA Draft for the first time, as will the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, leading up to the Draft tipoff at 7:30 p.m. Host Ryan Ruocco, analysts Rebecca Lobo and Andraya Carter, and reporter Holly Rowe will provide comprehensive coverage throughout the evening, from the arrival of the prospects on the signature WNBA Orange Carpet through the completion of the third round. In addition to covering the stories of the players and teams, ESPN will lean into the Draft's largest onsite audience to date.

We're excited that there will be fans in the theater to partake in all of the night's festivities, says Gaiero. We'll incorporate all of that and weave that in our coverage throughout the night. I think it will be amazing to see what that feel and vibe and energy is like on Monday night.

Getting To Know BAM: ESPN Welcomes the Unfamiliar Venue ESPN production will be housed in Live Media Group MU-12 and MU-15 mobile units, with production offices, storage space, NEP Fletcher robotics, and RF operations in space inside BAM. Because BAM is a theater, not an arena, there is no typical broadcast-truck parking or broadcast infrastructure. To operate out of the unfamiliar venue, ESPN's ops team has been doing site surveys since the WNBA Finals in October and conducting regular planning calls with the venue and the league to determine the best location for parking production trucks.

The venue is beautiful and will make a one-of-a-kind backdrop for such a historic WNBA Draft, says Catherine Chalfant, remote production operations supervisor, ESPN. The beauty of the BAM Theater allows us to do some unique things in terms of camera placement and a WNBA Countdown set separate from the main stage.

In addition, ESPN sought assistance from counterparts at Walt Disney Co. sibling ABC and The Jimmy Kimmel Show - particularly Kimmel Line Producer Matt Musgrave - to get an understanding of how they have produced the show from BAM over the past few years. ESPN Senior Remote Operations Specialist Brian Ristine says Musgrave and his team have been wonderful partners throughout the planning process and ESPN will return the favor by sharing lessons learned during its live show on Monday for future editions of Kimmel at BAM.

Gaiero adds, We've learned a lot just in the last couple years, and we're bringing that experience into this event. We've had collaborative conversations with the league, and that has helped position us to come into this new venue and hit the ground running.

Design for the Draft: ESPN's Onsite Sets, Arsenal of Cameras, Miked Players ESPN has expanded its footprint for the Draft this year to include two sets. The main desk will be built on the main floor of the theater, a few feet from the Draft stage, and will be used throughout the broadcast. New this year is a separate WNBA Countdown set in the theater lobby in front of the orange carpet. Rowe will also have her position to the left of the commissioner's podium, where she will have first access to interview each draftee after their name is called.

We're somewhat limited to what the venue can provide, but we tried to take a look at [how we could grow the production], Gaiero says about the impact of the growing popularity of women's hoops on ESPN's Draft plans. We have a whole different WNBA Countdown setup that's separate from what we will do inside the theater. Inside, we're positioning our cameras to capture the entire vibe of the theater that's different from the venue we were in last year. We'll scale with the venue and with the event.

ESPN will deploy 15 cameras at BAM: two dedicated to WNBA Countdown, three on the main WNBA Draft set, one dedicated to wall-to-wall press-conference coverage, three roaming RF handhelds, two jibs (one with virtual-graphics capability), three Fletcher robotic cameras throughout the theater and on the orange carpet, and a Steadicam that will be deployed, Chalfant says, to help capture the special moments of these young women's realizing that their dreams are becoming a reality and creating that emotional connection for the viewers watching at home.

On the audio side, ESPN has partnered with the league to have four prospects wear mics throughout the night.

Beyond BAM, ESPN's telecast will also have cameras inside five team Draft Rooms: Indiana, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington - each having a First Round pick. Additionally, the broadcaster will have live coverage from Indiana Fever and Los Angeles Sparks official Watch Parties. I
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/04/12/espn-rides-wave-of-womens-hoops...
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