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What Really Goes Into a Live Sports Broadcast?

Updated on December 2, 2017
A great deal of preparation and coordination go into a live sports broadcast.
A great deal of preparation and coordination go into a live sports broadcast.

The first thing that goes into a live sports broadcast is the preparation. According to an interview of Dennis Kirkpatrick by Brian Clapp, “The preparation you do before game day is really the most important part of the week.” The producer has to know both the team and the surrounding area well, and he must take care of the little details. Kirkpatrick says talking with the coach is a good way to gain information to help you decide which parts of the game and which players you will focus on.

The producer and crew must arrive hours before the game, often very early in the morning for afternoon games. The producer is usually the first to arrive, and if it is early in the morning, he will usually buy breakfast for the crew to keep everyone happy.

The team usually practices before the game begins, which the producer observes. Clapp says, “This is a great time to connect with coaches and note which players you will be focusing on.” The producer then shares notes on what he thinks will be important during the game with the director and rest of the crew.

It is important for all the members of the team to know what their job is and to pull their weight. Kirkpatrick says,“If we aren’t all on the same page, the game will look disjointed and sloppy.”

Once the game starts, the atmosphere at the broadcast is a hectic one. The room is filled with dozens of screens, each showing a different view of the game going on. Depending on how big of a game it is, there could be dozens of cameras. Those working on the production have no breaks, and they hardly have a chance to even go to the restroom except during commercial breaks.

Although the producer has determined how long each segment will last, announcers will often talk slower or faster than the producer had planned for. As a result, the producer and director are constantly making adjustments on the fly.

An article on GeekWire by Taylor Soper described a live Fox News broadcast of golf, where a large team of people, including directors, producers, editors, and technicians, worked for many hours each day working to put together the broadcast.

The director is in charge of which camera to air and for how long to show each shot. The producer pays attention to the broadcast as a whole and makes sure it is unified, making any required changes. The announcers tell the story, and other members of the team create segments to replay and line up graphics to play.

According to Soper, it is important for members of the team to be “knowing where all the cameras are, understanding what player to show at a given time, fixing any technological bugs, communicating with the play-by-play and color commentators, etc.” A great deal of preparation and team effort goes into producing the live sports broadcasts so frequently shown on television.

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