The football season has arrived, and it’s set to be another productive one for the ESPN Stats & Information Group (SIG). SIG produces world-class data, insights and storytelling that powers ESPN platforms and better informs sports fans. This group is working tirelessly behind the scenes to equip production teams and viewers with quality information that enhances telecasts by providing even more depth and perspective.
An example of that (above) was part of the kickoff to the college football season when ESPN Associate Director and SIG College Football lead Chris Burnette was on-site in Columbus, Ohio on Sept. 3 for the Notre Dame-Ohio State game.
Burnette, research producers Sopan Shah, Matt Williams and SIG increased collaboration to super-serve the Saturday Night Football crew on ABC with differentiating insights that went beyond the box score. To do this, SIG joined the crew in pre-production meetings, talent phone calls and even created a dedicated Slack channel for the game so they could communicate directly with announcers Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, both of whom have a SIG-dedicated tablet in the booth.
With Notre Dame limiting Buckeyes quarterback C.J Stroud’s downfield passing ability, Williams and SIG’s Bristol-based Video Analysis Team identified the storyline and the information was communicated in real-time to the booth, which led to a telling graphic airing in the third quarter of the broadcast:
SIG’s in-the-moment stats enhance many ESPN broadcasts in addition to college football and basketball, including NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, tennis and golf. Five years ago, SIG began providing this service for Monday Night Football, and research producer John Parolin has quickly established an excellent working relationship with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
ESPN Vice President of SIG Jeff Bennett discusses even more of what’s planned:
Q: What new programs/elements is SIG planning for football season?
Bennett: The biggest change for our group is establishing a relationship with ESPN’s new Monday Night Football announcing crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. SIG Research Producer John Parolin has been working with Joe and Troy to ensure we are meeting and exceeding their expectations in terms of weekly preparation and in-game support information.
Q: What should people anticipate from the SIG group this fall?
Bennett: SIG is driven to produce world-class data, insights and storytelling to ensure sports fans trust ESPN for depth and perspective. We foster trust in our content by sweating the details on everything we produce, large and small, because we know that serving sports fans starts by being one.
Q: What other football efforts will SIG’s be focusing on?
Bennett: Football touches every member of SIG for the next several months. The team interacts with a large number of ESPN employees through its NFL and CFB Slack channels, each having over 1,000 members, and various production Slack and email inboxes.