Behind The Scenes

Fast Break: Bryan Burns on ESPN 3D showcases at 2012 International CES

LAS VEGAS — Beginning Tuesday, the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center is home to the 2012 International CES, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

ESPN will play host to events throughout the entire week to demonstrate innovative products like ESPN 3D and WatchESPN.

Produced by the Consumer Electronics Association, the International CES offers a first look at new devices and technologies that improve the consumer experience throughout the world.

As the leader in 3D sports, ESPN will offer show attendees opportunities to view live ESPN 3D telecasts produced in ESPN’s exhibit space in Central Hall.

ESPN’s Bryan Burns is the vice president of strategic business planning and will be in the center of it all.

He shares a preview of the week with Front Row. We will have more from Las Vegas throughout the week.

Bryan Burns, vice president, strategic business planning

FR: It’s January, which means it is time for the Consumer Electronics Show. For our fans who aren’t as familiar, can you tell us why this show is important?
ESPN, more than anything else, is a creator of content. Our people create the best sports content in the world. Fans always take in that content through some kind of an electronic device, except for ESPN The Magazine. That could be a tablet, an e-reader, a mobile device, a computer, a radio, a satellite radio and for the most part, don’t forget about televisions, where the vast amount of our content is consumed. The International CES is where it all happens with consumer electronics and devices. We have to be ready to technically deal with the devices of the future and sell to those hardware suppliers. CES is really important.

FR: ESPN has often gone to the show to see the latest electronics and our employees have participated on many panels as subject matter experts, but this is the first time since 2004 that we will have a booth. What prompted this decision?
We know the power of being involved with CES. This isn’t our first time at this rodeo. We announced ESPN HD in the fall of 2002 and participated in the 2003 show. We were actually on the show floor as we threw the switch on ESPN2 HD. Bob Iger gave an ESPN-oriented Monday Night Football keynote the January after our first MNF season. We have come to learn what works at CES, and how to bring positive attention to our company’s offerings. This year’s display is just the next evolution in our involvement at CES.

FR: It seems that the booth will have a quite a bit of activity — including the first ESPN 3D studio show telecast when SportsNation takes the air at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. Can you give us the highlights of what is happening each day?
We have a very busy week. On Monday night, we are bringing the ESPN 3D telecast of the Allstate BCS Championship Game into the theatre at the Las Vegas Hotel for a group of customers and potential customers for all ESPN products. On Tuesday, Terry Francona and Orel Hershiser from Sunday Night Baseball appear in our exhibit space. In that same space on Wednesday, Colin Cowherd will broadcast The Herd on ESPN Radio and Sports Nation will televise live as our first studio show on ESPN 3D. On Thursday, we’ll create a bit of a spectacle as we produce a series of boxing matches from Top Rank right in the middle of CES during the day and we televise them on ESPN 3D. CES ends on Friday at 4 p.m., and two hours later we produce Friday Night Fights on ESPN2 HD and ESPN 3D from the Hard Rock Café.

FR: ESPN has always had a strong presence at CES, looking for what’s next so we can better serve our fans. Besides the ESPN 3D team, what other departments will be at the show this year looking for the latest gadgets?
ESPN 3D is kind of the lead face at CES, but it is much broader than that. We’re demonstrating Watch ESPN in our space. We’re conducting discussions with groups from all over the world as to the products we provide, including things like ScoreCenter for connected televisions. I generally know who is coming from ESPN, and it is no surprise that the entire company is represented. From Technology to Content to Digital to Ad Sales and Affiliate Sales, it seems many functional units from both ESPN and Disney have good reason to be at CES and conduct business. As our company designs many new services, we’re learning that CES is the place to be. That’s why 150,000 (and that’s not a typo) people will be in Vegas at CES this week.

FR: After this week, what other programming should fans look for on ESPN 3D? What’s next?
We come out of CES headed toward televising the Winter X Games totally in 3D. My friend Phil Orlins is, as they say, “stoked.” Then our College Basketball team does a series of 3D telecasts in February and March including a handful of College GameDay telecasts. The schedule is always evolving so fans will hear more in the coming months. Exciting times and great pictures lie ahead for the viewers of ESPN 3D.

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