NBA descends on the O2 for regular season spectacular

The National Basketball Association (NBA) worked closely with Madison Square Garden (MSG) to deliver coverage of the recent regular season game between the New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons at London’s O2 Arena on 17 January.

The sold-out match – which ultimately delivered a 102-87 victory for the Knicks – was the NBA’s third regular season game in the UK. It was also the first NBA match played in the UK to be shown live in 3D (by Sky), and was also available live on mobile, online and tablet devices via Sky Go. As regards UK TV broadcast, the match was shown exclusively by Sky Sports as part of a recently announced agreement for live games throughout the current season.

Speaking a few hours before the match got underway, NBA’s technical vice-president, operations and technology, Steve Hellmuth, told SVG Europe: “We are using the Visions group for the production facilities and there are basically three productions coming out of the venue. The host feed is a collaboration between the NBA and Madison Square Garden, which is one of the representatives for distribution to the US and international markets. It’s 10 cameras, three EVSs… a lot of gear!

“There is a relatively clean feed to the US, where it will get picked up by MSG for distribution in international territories, as well as NBA TV in Atlanta for the rest of domestic national. It also gets picked up in Sequoia, our facility for distribution to international clients. All the graphics are done at various US studios and broadcast centres for their own markets.

“We have a pretty large compound here… BSkyB doing 2D/3D; the world feed, which is a mixed telecast; and then another truck standing by for press conferences. A surprisingly large collection of television equipment all in all!”

With this ‘London Live’ event helping to further cement the NBA’s global brand status, it’s no surprise that the technological bar was set very high. Hellmuth confirms that there were “lots of discussions, plenty of planning” about the broadcast configuration and related practicalities. In moving towards the broadcast, they were assisted by an O2 that is more user-friendly post-Olympics, with “some infrastructural changes that have been really beneficial. [Venue operator] AEG is a great business that really knows how to do these things, so it has been a good experience.”

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