During a six-week sprint after the re-launch of the season, ABC / ESPN, in partnership with the NBA and Turner, tried to turn what had long been considered the “happiest place on Earth” to the safest.
In creating the NBA bubble at Disney World in Orlando, the league and network hope to protect players and staff from the coronavirus.
But they did more than that – they tried to transform the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex into something of a state-of-the-art, hopefully, pandemic television studio.
As ESPN approaches its first broadcast on Friday night, it has tried to create a sense of great time without the presence of fans.
For this purpose, the network has built only 30 or more infrastructures in a month and a half inside and outside the three arenas where the courts are located.
ESPN would not reveal how much it spent on the facility, but said the NBA̵7;s spending was $ 150 million for the entire bubble.
“Speaking of others, this compound is similar to the Olympic type,” ESPN Vice President Mike Shiffman told The Post over FaceTime as he toured the arena and ESPN broadcast for an hour.
ESPN, TNT and the NBA tried to come up with everything to persevere, as Shiffman, along with league officials and Turner, conducted an on-site survey six weeks ago.
Aesthetics include virtual fans and a sense of home court for each team. The national broadcast will include 20 plus cameras as opposed to 12 for non-pandemic bubble-free games.
In all three courts, ESPN will use more than 60 robotic cameras. Around 200 ESPN employees work at the event, almost 20 of whom have been posted.
We hope this seems like a big event.
“That’s a big part,” Shiffman said.
ESPN and Turner, which started Thursday’s first regular season with a restart, are responsible not only for their broadcasts, but also for the 22 regional sports networks, so every basketball you watch in the coming months will have its own imprint on them. Both networks provide RSN as a “world channel” for broadcasting their teams’ games.
Safety is first-class, and the NBA has introduced a two-tier bubble system.
There are players in the green zone. There are journalists in the green zone, such as ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
Upon arrival, these members of the media had to test negatively and quarantine seven days before they could move around the marked areas.
People in the yellow zone, where Shiffman and ABC / ESPN’s top broadcast team of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson live, are tested on arrival in Waldorf and must be quarantined one day before they have a negative impact on the room. COVID-19 test, which has a fast turnaround. They do not have personal interaction with players.
They are tested twice a week and must wear masks. There were no rules.
In its main production vehicle, the number of personnel was halved from levels 10 to 12 to six. Each is separated by a plexiglass divider.
“You feel safe,” Shiffman said.
In the arena, Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson will have almost the same price as 12 rows. They will also have transparent partitions between them.
When it comes to games, the nets will try to show some unique shots using a rail cam on the side of the field. There are also advanced free-throw radar cameras, which are not normally there.
Because there are no fans in the arena, the rail spray can be used during the live event, not just during the exchange. ESPN will also have behind-the-scenes cameras that will allow viewers to see the players’ training.
About six weeks ago, when Disney was designated a place to restart the NBA, Shiffman, along with NBA officials and Turner, went on a trip to Orlando to find out how they could transform the court and maybe he could think of everything.
Turner was first up Thursday night. Starting Friday, ESPN will be in the spotlight. Then he will have 10 games in four days.
It was a sprint when unoccupied gyms and bearings became safe places, but he hopes that ESPN will still provide NBA entertainment at the highest level.