Live from the US Open: Sky Sports puts Open Zone at centre of action

Sky Sports UK’s Open Zone, a range-side studio that has some unique elements, is the centre of the action for the channel at the 2018 U.S. Open. Not only has Sky Sports decided to host all of its studio shows from the Open Zone but the Zen Green made its U.S. Open debut (it first debuted at the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale last summer).

Tim Brown (left) and George Jeffery of Sky Sports say the decision to move the studio show to the Open Zone has paid off.

The Zen Green is a putting green that can raise and fall to simulate uphill, downhill, and even sidehill putts. It’s another tool in the arsenal of the analysts that allows them to offer more insight into what the players are dealing with on the course.

“It allows demonstrations of how the greens affect the players and it’s a coaching tool that we can use in the Open Zone or a studio,” says George Jeffery, Sky Sports, senior production manager.

The decision to move the studio show to the Open Zone is already paying off as it literally saves costs But Tim Brown, Sky Sports, director, says while it gets away from the classic studio shot with a clubhouse or 18th hole as a backdrop, the reaction from viewers is positive.

“Everyone likes it because we are a bit more open to the elements and you have players warming up in the background,” he says. “But by being outside the viewer gets a sense of the conditions right away as you can see the wind or rain. And someone like Luke Donald [and other former players] feel a bit more at home and relaxed because they are sitting on the range.”

The Open Zone offers a great backdrop via the driving range.

The core of Sky Sports production is NEP Chromium for actual on-course coverage, T5 as an office trailer with commentary, T4 as an edit trailer, and Telegenic’s T-Wiz remote production unit. The channel also has seven unilateral cameras, two at the Sky Cart for touchscreen analysis and interviews, three at the Open Zone, and then two RF cameras. It’s a relatively small team but Brown says the mix of UK and American crew and talent is done a great job.

“We’re very lucky to have an amazing team and it’s an honour and privilege to work with them,” says Brown. “We work hard together, play hard together, and everyone gets on. But I am very lucky to direct a great team and all the facilities are top notch.”

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