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ESPN brings the Invictus Games to a worldwide audience

HRH Prince Harry expected to appear on ESPN’s Invictus Games set

Chris Fowler and Marysol Castro will host ESPN’s primetime Invictus Games coverage tonight beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The 90-minute program will be live from ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. An expected live interview with HRH Prince Harry, the founder of the Games, is one of the scheduled highlights. For more details, visit ESPN MediaZone.

ESPN is providing exclusive coverage of Invictus Games Orlando 2016, a multi-sport event for wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women. This year’s Games, held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, air on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 through May 12. Front Row spoke with Dennis Cleary, associate director of Remote Production Operations, who is overseeing all aspects of on-site operations.

How does it feel to be a part of the Invictus Games?
The entire team is excited since this is only the second time they are being held and the first time it’s in the U.S. I put this in line with the Special Olympics that occurred last year. It’s not your typical event and there are a lot of technical challenges. The ceremonies and events are eye-opening.

What did you learn from the Special Olympics that’s useful for this production?
The opening/closing ceremonies are truly an entertainment event versus a sporting event. Therefore, there are two parts to show – working with TV production and the entertainment team. The goal is to work together to align the entertainment side with our TV audience.

We are producing for the rest of the world and our feeds are distributed to multiple countries. The BBC is also on site and we share feeds and content. We are producing the Games with the world in mind.
– Dennis Cleary

How is producing a multi-sport event unique?
The competition coverage includes four-to-five cameras, a three-to-four-hour coverage block on ESPN3 and no TV timeouts. The biggest difference is the volume due to covering multiple venues in one day and repositioning cameras.

How does ESPN go about providing the world feed?
We are the host and world broadcaster for this event. We are producing for the rest of the world and our feeds are distributed to multiple countries. The BBC is also onsite and we share feeds and content. We are producing the Games with the world in mind.

We are using a total of three control rooms, two of which are at ESPN Wide World of Sports Production Center. The third control room is a mobile unit we are utilizing and will be used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the three nightly ESPN2 programs.

Our crew is onsite generally three hours prior to air and generally work 12-14 hour days, depending on the broadcast schedule. A challenge for the production and operations team is to take the content and quickly turn it around for the nightly ESPN2 recap shows.

Where is the host set for ESPN2 telecasts?
There are two set locations for the ESPN2 coverage. One set will be located in Champion Stadium which will telecast the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The second set is located at the entrance of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex which will be the home for the nightly recap show and will also be shared with the BBC.

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