Editor’s Note: Mark Caswell, Multimedia Specialist, ESPN Communications, shot the video above chronicling the Aug. 26 launch of Longhorn Network. Here’s some of his personal perspective on the project.
As I was preparing to leave Connecticut and head down to Austin, Texas to cover the launch of the Longhorn Network last week, I had just experienced my first earthquake.
Not only that, but Tropical Storm Irene was on her way up the East Coast.
One hundred-degree temperatures awaited me in Texas and I had expected to find even more turbulence and stress surrounding the launch of a new network.
Well, it was certainly hot in Austin, but there was little turbulence to be found.
Everyone seemed be taking the big launch in stride.
The production staff was busy rehearsing to ensure everything would run as smoothly as possible and programming was working with the affiliate team sign service providers to air the network.
Several Bristolites were on hand that day to help get Longhorn Network up and running.
Coordinating directors Alex Tyner and Ty Frison played supportive roles in many areas from establishing workflows for studio shows to managing media content between Austin, Bristol and Los Angeles.
“In a launch like this, you find what needs to be done and set deadlines to accomplish them. Many dedicated people have touched this project in some way and it’s been a pleasure working with such a great launch team,” said Frison.
Said Tyner: “The phrase that keeps coming to mind is, ‘It takes a village…’ With the abbreviated timeline to launch, we quickly realized we wouldn’t have time to build a traditional facility.
“At that point, Chris Calcinari and Event Ops kicked into gear with an approach that more closely resembled a build-out for World Cup or the Super Bowl. Dave Weiler’s groups [Studio Directing and Production Ops] then provided the crew, workflow, communication, coordination, etc. related to getting a network on the air.
“What’s been especially challenging here is not only are we launching a number of new shows in a brand new facility, but we’re also taking a totally local crew and quickly bringing them up to speed on our unique way of producing television. To do this, Dave’s two groups alone have sent down about 20 people just to assist in bringing this facility and network to life.”
At 6 p.m. Central Time, the channel’s opening video with actor Matthew McConaughey played to the large crowd gathered for ESPN’s College GameDay and the launch on the UT campus.
The fans, cheerleaders and marching band erupted with cheers. I am pretty sure even UT’s steer mascot, Bevo, let out a celebratory snort.
The studio is located north of campus and will provide 24/7 programming to Longhorns fans.
In addition to more than 200 live events, the network will dedicate 10 percent of its programming to academic and cultural content.