The Herman Trend Alert
February 22, 2017
The Future of Sports Casting
Last month, our author, Joyce Gioia, was blessed to share a plane ride with Sam Gore, TV sports commentator for ESPN. Though Gore covers tennis year-round, he also "calls" just about any college sport. If the name sounds familiar, you probably saw Gore commentating gymnastics events at the last Olympics.
Advancing technology replacing people behind the camera
Mostly gone are the days for the cameraman holding his camera on his shoulder. Whereas in the past, it took a whole crew of camera people to adequately cover a sporting event. Now, there may be no people holding cameras at all. Using drone technology and many robotic cameras, networks are covering sporting events as well or even better than they used to. Drones can get aerial shots mere humans can only aspire to shoot.
Other technology is fast eliminating other production jobs
ESPN used to have a truck onsite at every sporting event, filled with producers and directors running the broadcast of the event. Now, there is no truck, no travel expense for producers and technicians; perhaps the announcers are onsite, but everyone else is remote. This REMI (REMote Integration) model is fast changing the whole back-end of the broadcasting process. On college and university campuses with studios, the signal is already hooked into the institution's wi-fi system and all of the production people stay in the studio, often in a different city. And I say "perhaps", because sometimes, even the announcer is calling the event from afar. Recently, Gore announced the Australian Open from a studio in Los Angeles; no one watching realized, because the technology is just that good---it seemed like he was on court.
The number of sporting events is growing exponentially.
At the same time, the proliferation of sports events has been impressive. When Gore first started announcing with ESPN in 2004, there were only one to two volleyball games per week; now, between various ESPN networks and online, there could be 10 volleyball games/night. Moreover, when Gore first got into sports casting, there was only broadcast television: no cable networks and no online streaming. The technology simply did not exist. This proliferation has created many more opportunities for young people---at least in front of the camera.
More consumer interest has also led to more coverage
Tennis used to only have coverage for the finals of major tour events; now with robotic cameras, the network either covers and/or streams the tour events from the beginning early rounds through to the finals. Plus, all the cameras were robotic, and every match was covered.
Expect production personnel to dwindle even more
Every sporting event currently has one producer and one director. But perhaps, not for long. Gore expects that soon the technology will allow the executive producers to do it all---direct, replay, and even replace the people building highlights. Gore says he is working "more now than ever before", while his colleagues behind the cameras are worried.
More events mean more homework, too
However, young people, if this sounds like a plum career, be advised Gore spends hours in preparation for each appearance, learning names of players, their track records, and all the little human interest details, we have come to expect to hear from our sports commentators. If this is your chosen career, be prepared to work very hard and be very adaptable.
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