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A Whole New Bull-Game: PBR Teams Series Calls for New Production Technology, Storytelling Strategy


A Whole New Bull-Game: PBR Teams Series Calls for New Production Technology, Storytelling Strategy The live broadcast now mirrors the in-venue production with the same on-air talent for both By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 2:33 pm

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With the launch of the PBR Team Series last month, an entirely new five-on-five bull riding format has changed the face of the sport. And with that new format comes a brand-new look and feel for both the broadcast and the in-venue show - complete with a new state-of-the art in-arena experience, as well as new cameras, graphics, and audio elements for the broadcast.

Photo by Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media.

This has been a one-on-one sport for almost 30 years and now it's about teams; that changes the entire story, says Robby Greene, who oversees TV and production for PBR. The camaraderie and team spirit adds a whole new level to the story. To watch teammates and coaches on the back of these bucking shoots pulling for the guy out there [riding] is really special to watch. So I'm really excited to present that to our audience in a new and totally different way.

After debuting at the outdoor Cheyenne Frontier Days on July 25-26, the PBR Team went into full swing with indoor events at arenas Kansas City and Anaheim followed by Nashville this weekend as part of the 11-event regular season with championship weekend in Las Vegas in November. All PBR Team Series events are being broadcast on either the CBS Television Network or CBS Sports Network or streamed live on Paramount+ or PBR RidePass on Pluto TV.

Best of Both Worlds: Melding the Broadcast and In-Venue Shows From an operations standpoint, the live broadcast now mirrors the in-venue show with the same talent heard in the arena and on television (as opposed to two independent shows for PBR's primary Unleash the Beast series).

Photo by Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

Over the years, people at our live events have always told us I wish I could hear the television commentators while I'm in arena' and then people watching on television at home say, I wish I could see and hear more of what going on [in the arena].' Says Greene. So we're trying to give everybody the best of both worlds by combining these two distinctly different shows and making it one product.

As part of this single-show mentality, the CBS TV broadcast desk, captained by Kate Harrison, is located front and center in the middle of the bucking chutes rather than in a traditional announce booth. In addition, CBS has embedded sideline reporters Allen Bestwick and Matt West and dedicated cameras to each team's bucking chute - similar to coverage of dugouts in baseball broadcasts. All of these elements will also be incorporated into the in-venue videoboard show, bringing fans in the stands and at home closer to the action than ever before.

We're definitely still learning, but we're just so excited to be able to provide that same perspective to both the spectator that bought a ticket [at the venue] or that's watching at home, says Greene. We can now offer that perspective now from the entire talent team - both in arena and television. Is it perfect? Not yet. But is it a product that we're proud of? Absolutely. And we're getting better every week.

Inside the Arena: Big-Time Videoboard, Lighting, and Audio Upgrades The in-venue Teams Series experience is almost unrecognizable compared to a traditional PBR event, including PBR's largest-ever main video board, a state-of-the-art theatrical lighting system, and a drastically enhanced sound system.

Arena, Opening during the 2nd day of Anaheim California PBR Teams event. Photo by Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media.

The new center-hung videoboard measures 55 feet wide by 30 feet tall and is comprised of nearly 5 million individual LEDs. In addition, 400 linear feet of reinforced face LED signage surround the entire arena, replacing the traditional printed signage tacked to the fences that bulls would sometimes tear down.

The in-venue experience also features nearly 300 individual lighting elements, including beams, strobes, spotlights, moving head fixtures, fixed and flashing lights. This significantly boosts the drama-factor inside the arena compared to previous PRB events, which relied heavily on each venue's house lighting.

On the audio side, a new sounds system equipped with 56 line-array speakers and eight subwoofers delivers 512,000-watts of sound amplification. PBR has also invested in state-of-the-art sound reinforcement technology to improve sound levels and clarity everywhere in the arena. Dan Hickman, head of production for PBR, told the Wrangler Network that the system (developed by a German audio company specializing in high-end concert audio) dramatically improves sound clarity and will allow his team to digitally steer sound away from areas the TV booth and other areas that require quiet.

Photo by Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

A total of 15 semi-trucks are required to transport all this gear from venue to venue each week - not counting trailers and trucks to bring in an average of 90 bulls to each 3-day homestand as well as 750 tons of dirt.

The addition, 30 seats on a new deck above the bucking chutes will put VIP guests virtually on top of the action, while another 18 Dirt Suites are located in the end zone area opposite the bucking chutes. Greene says the in-venue show now feels more like a high-profile title fight or WWE show than a rodeo.

I think I underestimated just how big the wow' factor would be at one of these PBR Teams events, he says. I just sit back in awe of what has been created in the arena with these 360-degree LED video boards, the new sound system, the new people-pin structure, and the concert stage. If you didn'
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