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ESPN’s Operations Team Keeping Commentators ‘Live From Home’ For KBO League Telecasts

“The [operations] team had under a week to create the workflow and build the show.”

ESPN’s inaugural presentation of the KBO League (Korean Baseball Organization) got underway Monday night very early Tuesday morning, Eastern Time. The game between the NC Dinos at Samsung Lions (re-airing today at 3 p.m., ESPN2) brought many a sampling of live sports once again. Behind the scenes, the presentation was another example of ESPN’s quick planning, innovation and cross-department collaboration to serve fans.

“As soon as the operations team heard about the KBO League live games, we immediately jumped into planning mode,” said Senior Vice President, ESPN Production Operations, Stacey Fitch. “The team had under a week to create the workflow and build the show. We are using an automated control room model with social distancing. Keeping our employees safe is our top priority.”

The at-home equipment featured a complete remote audio and video setup for on-air commentators, Karl Ravech and Eduardo Pérez.

“The newly developed ‘Live From Home – Commentary’ systems enable our team to call the action as if they were on-site, inclusive of the high-quality headsets, commentary boxes, and communications gear that they are accustomed to using,” said Senior Vice President, ESPN and ABC Sports Remote Production Operations, Chris Calcinari. “Further, we combined our home studio kits into the workflow so that we could put Ravech and Pérez on camera during the games and allow them to see the game feed, themselves, and each other on the telecast.”

This comes just after ESPN Deportes’ Pablo Viruega and Kenneth Garay called Thor Bjornsson’s deadlift world record on Saturday from home. The day made history all around, as it was also the first time ever a live ESPN event in the U.S. was done in that way. Saturday’s production featured a slightly different setup and workflow, but in both cases, having the commentators remotely call a live event from their respective homes marks another significant evolution during this time.

“We successfully tested the game feed from Korea on Friday, the home systems were installed and tested over the weekend and a full rehearsal took place on Sunday through a Bristol [Conn.] control room,” said Calcinari.

“In Bristol, we are integrating the at-home commentary as well as incorporating graphics, replays & music,” said Fitch. “Our teams are really excited to work on live sports again despite the time difference and middle of the night crew call.”

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