ESPN’s remote operations team has long led the sports industry in providing remote home studios – innovative IP-based camera systems that are remotely controlled from Bristol, Conn., – for commentators without easy access to a studio.
The constantly evolving workplace norms due to COVID-19 have led to an accelerated demand for installation as ESPN continues to focus on the health and safety of its employees while remaining mindful of its mission to serve sports fans.
Shea Byram, senior manager, remote operations, and Ryan Bastek, senior remote operations coordinator, are leading the effort, coordinating with studio directing, lighting and transmission to make sure the remote studios – there were 75 before the latest push – are TV ready.
“As soon as we heard there might be a need, we started planning for different scenarios,” said Byram. “We took action and quickly bought all the systems that were available so we would be ahead of the curve.”
The team is currently installing at least one unit per day and recently have worked with the home locations of Keith Olbermann, Jordan Schultz, Tisha Thompson, Dianna Russini, Dan Orlovsky, Jay Williams, Louis Riddick, Mike Greenberg, Max Kellerman, Kendrick Perkins, Rachel Nichols and Hannah Storm.
Safety is always top of mind.
Thanks to Shia and Ryan and our entire remote ops group and all the tech, directors, audio and lighting folks in Bristol for everything they are doing to set up our home studios and help us #StaySafe 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/RFMefJSrFu
— Hannah Storm (@HannahStormESPN) March 20, 2020
“We are staying local whenever possible and using colleagues in the area to assist with the set up,” said Byram. “For example, Rachel Busch [manager, studio design and development] is based in LA, so she has jumped in to help. We have also shipped the equipment to the commentators’ homes and helped them install over the phone. We have also started wearing masks and gloves.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, Outside The Lines’ Keith Olbermann contributes an essay using his home studio in New York City.
The only question now in sports is “When? When does it come back?”
Why I think the world’s experience with Coronavirus implies we should presume it will be a long time: at best in July, August, September.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) March 14, 2020