Behind The ScenesNCAAB

Tournament time means even busier times for Tina Thornton and Women’s Championship crew

Senior Coordinating Producer Tina Thornton
Vice President for Production, Ad Sales Integration and Management Operations Tina Thornton (Photo by Tess Steinkolk)

ESPN Vice President for Production, Ad Sales Integration and Management Operations Tina Thornton oversees the production of ESPN’s coverage of the 64-team NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship field. First-round action begins today across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, WatchESPN and ESPN FULL COURT. Front Row spoke with Thornton prior to tip-off of the women’s championship.

What do viewers have to look forward to this year on ESPN’s NCAA Championship coverage?
The arrival of the NCAA Championship brings fantastic stories each year. We’ll follow the “Pursuit of Perfection” by UConn & Notre Dame focusing on: When will one of them go down or will they face each other in the Championship? How often do we get to potentially showcase two undefeated teams in the title game of any sport? We’ll explore all of those questions in our telecasts.

We will also feature Tourney Snapshots; an initiative curating social photos from the teams, fans and players participating in the tournament. Also, actress/musician Connie Britton from ABC’s Emmy-nominated show “Nashville” covered a Jason Aldean song called “The Only Way I Know.” The song will be paired with visual elements introduced throughout the tournament.

Besides overseeing production of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, you are also Vice President for Production Ad Sales Integration and Management Operations, how do you juggle both jobs?
I am fortunate enough to have extremely talented people who work with me in all these areas. When the Women’s Championship comes around, they keep me involved and informed but give me the time to focus on the sport. I can do this knowing that our business is in good hands.

What does your “other” job entail?
The areas are all very different. On the Ad Sales Integration side, my team works with production and sales to create integrated sponsor opportunities across all our shows and events. The management operation team is made up of the production management and business operations groups, and both establish the front lines of support in production.

In 20 years with the company, what has changed the most since you started?
The growth of ESPN in 20 years still amazes me. I started when we had two domestic networks and a few of buildings. I never imagined it turning into a campus that houses more than 4,000 employees.

Adding to that, what is it about ESPN that has kept you here for over 20 years?
ESPN has always been at the forefront of storytelling. We value new ideas, new technology and new businesses that allow us to share sports moments in different ways with our fans. That differentiation is what makes ESPN special.

Viewing Guide to the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship

The weekend’s tipoff to the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship begins today across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, WatchESPN and ESPN FULL COURT, with first round action tipping off at 11 a.m. ET. Most of the first- and second-round games will be televised on ESPN2 – with the exception of the Sunday 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. windows – within 12 telecast windows in a regionalized format.

  • During each telecast window, the network will alternate between games to showcase the best action for viewers in the majority of the nation. In the home markets of the competing teams, ESPN/ESPN2 will televise the game of local interest in its entirety.

    View regional maps, tip times and alternate channel numbers for DISH Network and DIRECTV of the games that will be offered in specific parts of the country.

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  • In addition to regional coverage, ESPN/WatchESPN will provide national coverage of the Notre Dame vs. Robert Morris first-round game (today, 1:30 p.m.) and the UConn vs. Prairie View A&M first-round game (tomorrow at 8 p.m).
  • Also, ESPN3 and ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN’s pay-per-view package, will offer complete games as a supplement to ESPN/ESPN2’s coverage. ESPN3 is accessible online at, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV and Roku. The final 15 games, beginning with the Regional Semifinals, will have national telecast windows on ESPN or ESPN2, as well as WatchESPN.
  • The Complete viewing guide to this year’s tournament.
  • By Stephen McDonald

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