Think it isn’t a new day for the NBA franchise Nets and the YES Network? After more than 20 years in the New Jersey swamps made famous by Bruce Springsteen (and a few interim years in Newark), they find themselves in the Barclays Center, a new arena in Brooklyn that reflects an urban sensibility laid bare by the music of minority owner Jay-Z, a location on Atlantic Avenue, and a technical infrastructure courtesy of WiFi and fiber that makes it just about the best venue a broadcaster can call home.
“It’s fantastic for TV,” says Ed Delaney, SVP, broadcast operations and engineering, YES Network. “The camera angles are excellent, and the intimate feel is nice and tight, with a close-to-the-court feel. It’s great and ready to go.”
Although the Nets’ on-court product has not paid ratings dividends for big-time productions for about 10 years (they did make the NBA Finals twice), the YES Network will bring a big-game feel to its broadcasts every night: its 10 cameras comprise robotic cameras in the hallways, on both backboards, and on the scoreboard, as well as the YES Mo three-chip NAC HiMotion II ultra-slow-motion camera. The YES Mo will be used in a variety of locations during the season —mid-court handheld, under the basket, a slash position — delivering signals to Game Creek Dynasty, the production truck that will be at the center of YES Network operations for Nets games.
“Brooklyn is part of the brand, maybe even more so than the Nets themselves, and ownership and the marketing efforts emphasize that,” says Woody Freiman, VP of production and programming for the YES Network. “They are giving the team a Brooklyn cool, urban feel with music and animations, and we are playing off of that.”
Playing off that energy began with the graphics look, with YES Network’s Rick Deutschman, Director, Creative Design and the design team at Venice, CA-based MFactor tackling the challenge of building graphics for a team whose new colors were black and white.
“It was a challenge at first, so we needed to incorporate more colors and bring in some earth tones and browns to support it,” says Deutschman. “And we are pushing Brooklyn with elements based around the Brooklyn Bridge, on the subway, or at the Atlantic Avenue subway station.”
As for the building itself, the decision to use theatrical lighting for the court will give coverage a more dramatic look.
“It’s focused and more like a Broadway show, dropping off dramatically in the first and second row in the stands,” says Freiman. “One of the problems is, while [the lighting] enhances the court, the crowd is dark as anything, so we’ve played with picking a section and, when something big happens, splashing light on the section for a crowd shot.”
The most unusual aspect of the building are two elevators used to allow production and delivery trucks to enter the building. The elevators will take trucks down to a giant turntable, which spins them around so that they can enter the building.
“There was not enough land to build a truck ramp,” says Delaney, adding, “We had our reservations [about the elevator], but, after seeing it in action, there are no issues.”
Social media will also play a big role this year.
“The goal is to tear down the walls of the studio and let the viewers inside the pregame production meetings,” says Kevin Sullivan. “We will be shooting video and taking photos in that meeting and then tweet out and let people know what we will be doing. And then we want to capture the vibe at the game.”
The YES Network’s first regular-season broadcast will be on Nov. 3, but the network will have a presence during the team’s first game on Nov. 1 (broadcast on TNT) with half-hour pregame and postgame shows.