ESPN weaves a common thread throughout its coverage of global soccer competitions: authenticity. From its presentation of matches on the field to capturing the atmosphere and culture in each event’s host country, authenticity is the driving principle that continues to elevate ESPN’s coverage. This attention to detail is evident in the design of ESPN’s studios and graphics for major events.
Today marks 365 days until the start of one of the planet’s most anticipated sporting events: the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
In recognition of the one-year countdown, a team of about 20 employees from ESPN’s Facilities and Operations and Creative Services groups created a visual work of art that represents more than 80 years of the “beautiful game’s” history.
First conceptualized by Jed Drake, senior vice president of production, the World Cup Wall offers a timeline with photos beginning with the 1930 tournament in Uruguay. The images chronicle key moments, top players and the winning nations from each World Cup event.
The wall extends approximately 200 feet along a main walkway leading into the ESPN Café on the company’s Bristol, Conn., campus. continue reading…
The inaugural X Games Foz Do Iguaçu concluded Sunday in Brazil.
Over the course of four days, ESPN transmitted nearly 30 hours of X Games content from the scenic venue adjacent to 200-foot waterfalls.
The videos above and below introduce you to some of the hundreds of people working primarily behind the scenes to bring ESPN’s action sports franchise to its new Brazilian location.
Jed Drake, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, Production, said of the telecasts from Foz: “This is a modern marvel. We’re kind of used to doing big, risky, cool, different things — otherwise known as the X Games – but this one is redefining it.
“It’s an incredible testament to the people who are working on it, because not only are we doing this now, but we’re doing it in the middle of a six-event, X Games schedule.”
Barcelona, Spain is home to the fourth leg of Global X, May 16-19. Munich, Germany hosts June 27-30, and Los Angeles welcomes X Games Aug. 1-4.
Executive producer Jed Drake had a vision for ESPN’s studio coverage of UEFA EURO 2012 that he shared nearly a year ago with creative director Noubar Stone.
Drake’s goal was to capture the atmosphere of host countries Poland and Ukraine in the set design while incorporating the graphic animations used in the television presentation.
How did Stone and his team do it? The short answer is creativity and dedication. The long answer entails utilizing some 1,800 square feet of studio real estate (Studio G on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus) that normally belongs to NASCAR Now and a few other shows covering a variety of sports.
Ultimately, by bringing in custom set pieces inspired by the host countries, ESPN will give fans a studio presentation befitting the enormity of the event.
As you see from the above video, Stone and his team have created a compelling setting adorned with everything from alternate skyline backdrops to border crossing posts and cobblestone flooring. continue reading…
ESPN's Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer, Production
Tuesday night in Las Vegas, ESPN was named Broadcaster of the Year at the 55th New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards, having won the most medals – 62, including 20 Golds.
The competition includes networks, production companies, advertising agencies and others from more than 50 countries around the world. It was the fifth consecutive time ESPN was named Broadcaster of the Year.
ESPN also won a prestigious Grand Award, for the open to the 2011 Indy 500. Grand Awards are selected from among all the Gold Medal winners. Only three were selected for this special honor. In addition to that race telecast’s six medals, ESPN’s leading entrants were E:60 and Outside the Lines.
In addition, sports television legend and longtime friend of ESPN, Geoff Mason, received the lifetime achievement award. A former top executive at ABC Sports and NBC Sports, Geoff also served seven years as executive producer of ESPN International and was the producer of ESPN’s ground-breaking telecasts of the 1987 America’s Cup from Australia. continue reading…
ESPN began pursuing Terry Francona as an analyst shortly after the Boston Red Sox announced he would not be returning as manager. At the time, the network wasn’t sure of the exact role.
Then the Red Sox announced Bobby Valentine, an ESPN analyst, was going to be the team’s next manager.
Fast forward less than a week later and ESPN hired Francona to replace Valentine in the Sunday Night Baseball booth, among other responsibilities.
Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, production, was one of the core executives responsible for Terry’s hire. Following is Jed’s perspective on the addition.
FR: When did you first identify Francona as a potential TV analyst? JD: We identified Terry as a potential analyst the day the Red Sox announced they were not going to pick up his option, which was the formal way the two parties severed. We felt he would be an asset to our announce team, regardless of any other personnel. We were going to work to bring him to our team even with the existing roster that we had.
FR: What qualities did he demonstrate which showed his ability to transition to television? JD: He’s an excellent communicator. Anybody that has ever heard him in a press conference or has interviewed him can see he speaks with great authority and has great communication skills. He doesn’t measure his words. He tells you what he’s thinking and he does so cleanly and clearly. It was one of those occasions when you listen to somebody and you just know they are going to be a good broadcaster.
FR: What do you think led Francona to ESPN? JD: We spent considerable time speaking with Terry, discussing the unique role we could offer him, and we developed a comfort level during the process. He was looking at a lot of opportunities outside of baseball and realized broadcasting would be a good avenue to pursue. In the end, it worked out quite well. We also had great support from Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production, to get this accomplished.
FR: How will the production team help him ease into broadcasting? JD: We don’t want him to become a professional broadcaster in the pure sense. What we want him to do is be himself and we want to make sure he’s every bit as outspoken as he was when he was managing the Red Sox. To get him acclimated is not going to be too difficult. We want to make sure he has the benefits of our research department, which he’s already engaged with, and we know he’ll be working very closely with two of the best in the business in Mike McQuade, vice president, production, and Tom Archer, coordinating producer of Sunday Night Baseball. He’ll also have great teammates on Sunday Night Baseball with Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser.
As I’ve said to Terry, one of the great things broadcasters do is they see the game differently than we do. It’s not a three-dimensional chess board; it’s six-dimensional. The art of being a great broadcaster is being able to see all of those nuances and then explain them to us in a way we the viewer can understand. We then become enlightened and understand the game better as a result of what that announcer brings to it.
ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, production, Jed Drake.
FR: How important is it to have analysts which are recently removed from the game?continue reading…
ESPN is debuting a new Baseball Tonight studio Monday night at 10 ET.
It’s the first ESPN studio space devoted exclusively to baseball throughout the Major League Baseball season. The new state-of-the-art Baseball Tonight studio is the largest ESPN sport-specific studio, with approximately 5,000 square feet including an expansive demonstration area.
Noubar Stone, ESPN’s senior creative director, oversaw the project for creative services.
A 23-year ESPN veteran (32 years, overall, with The Walt Disney Company), Stone has worked extensively on set designs and production including the launch of ESPN2, the X Games, the opening of ESPN’s digital center, the L.A. Production Center, the Open Championship and the FIFA World Cup (men’s and women’s).
The new Baseball Tonight set will be housed in Studio A, which opened in 1995 as a multi-set studio, a project Stone also supervised.
Stone said the wheels began turning in December, when discussions focused on where the new Baseball Tonight set would be located. continue reading…