First-round matches for the first all-ESPN US Open in New York begin Monday, Aug. 31, but for a select few who have been on site for weeks, it must feel like they are deep into the tournament after a series of five-set matches.
Terry Brady (director, Remote Production Operations), (Vice President, Production) Jamie Reynolds, Chris Strong (senior specialist remote, Production Operations) and a handful of others have been at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center every day since mid-July. Thanks to them, ESPN’s new role and responsibility – which includes producing all 11 TV courts for the world feed – is taking shape with an entirely different approach to producing hundreds of hours of television across two weeks.
Hence, the head start.
“In our new role, we chose an ‘Olympics-style’ approach – no traditional TV trucks or mobile units; rather, we’re building a two-story, 13,500-square foot broadcast center to bring the entire production under one roof,” Brady explains. “It has nine control rooms, and the advantages include enhanced ‘fail safe’ backup protections if there’s technical issues and greater flexibility as the tournament progresses and outer courts go dark.”
This approach – which is also taken by the host broadcaster at the Australian Open – also makes for a more uniform product to be used by 20 broadcasters and sub-licensees from around the world, including ESPN in the U.S. But there’s a lot to do to get ready.
In many ways, it’s unlike – and larger – than anything ESPN has ever done.
“This has to be one of the biggest single-event productions ESPN has ever done,” said Brady, who has worked for ESPN more than 12 years in two stints going back to 2000. “The size, the scope, the marathon daily telecasts…it’s a huge step forward into a new and better way to produce such an event.”