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Fox Sports NFL Director Rich Russo On the Keys to a Successful Broadcast

“I do go through certain situations on gameday with all the camera operators whether it’s stories, specific shots we are looking for.”

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Fox Sports

During NFL Sundays, fans are on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have to say during a game broadcast. In addition to the fans, the people in the Fox production truck are also listening so they can get to things as quickly as possible.

This past week, the lead NFL director at Fox Sports, Rich Russo, was on The WormCast: How Sports Media Happens podcast with host Jason Wormser. Russo, who has directed four Super Bowls on Fox and six Super Bowls for NFL International, discussed how listening in the truck for him and Richie Zyontz (lead producer) is key to a successful broadcast.

“For us in the truck, it’s really about listening,” Russo explained. “Just having conversations with Troy and talking to Troy about what he’s looking for during the game could maybe help me anticipate where he may be going. They are very good at playing off the monitor. The ability to listen is very important.”

One of the things that Russo gives Buck credit for is the way he is able to build a drama during any game and he knows what direction to take the broadcast at any given time:

“That verbiage has to be pretty quick, pretty succinct as to what they want, what they are looking for,” said Russo. “Even if I wasn’t working with the crew, if you turn on a game that Joe and Troy are doing, it’s a huge game. I think they do such an amazing job… Joe is so good at building the drama. He is so understanding of when to lay out, when the crowd is going crazy, or when to hear the cadence of the quarterback. That’s not easy to do. He really knows.”

That preparation for a game broadcast involves looking into certain things that may happen during the game following the prep work done by the broadcast and production crew. Russo will hear from Aikman what his key points of emphasis might be, and the director might make it a point to get to it quicker than when Aikman might have otherwise.

“I do go through certain situations on gameday with all the camera operators whether it’s stories, specific shots we are looking for,” Russo said.

“Maybe Troy, for example, wants to see the safeties earlier where maybe the safeties disguise some of their coverages, so I may say I’m going to get to the play-by-play camera a little earlier so we can, in fact, see those. Troy likes to telestrate prior to the snap, so I just want to warn our camera guys about that and to look out for that. There’s a lot of different variables that go into these discussions prior to the game.”

In terms of how game broadcasts could potentially be improved in the future, Russo said that while he loves audio, the networks are not allowed to use it all:

“I always love audio when we go back and you watch NFL Films when you hear these guys mic’d,” he said. “It’s all after-the-fact. It’s all in post. There have been times where we have mic’d players in Super Bowls. You can only use a certain amount of audio. I sometimes wish with that audio, we can do a little more in real time and I’m not so sure we can get to that. Some of that audio, I sometimes wish, we can incorporate into our games at times.”

During this podcast, Russo also goes into the details of what the prep for the Super Bowl is like when Fox has the broadcast, so it is another way to prepare for the big game coming up on Sunday. 

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Ken Carman: Cavaliers-Magic Blackout Was a ‘Bleep You to Everybody for the Night’

“It is the internet – you can’t fix that type of mistake quickly?”

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Ken Carman
Courtesy: Audacy

As the Cleveland Cavaliers took a two-game lead in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Orlando Magic, several fans of the teams were incensed because of their inability to access the game. On Monday night, fans within the home marketplaces for the Cavaliers and Magic were blacked out from watching the game on NBA.TV both through the cable channel and utilizing an NBA League Pass subscription. Ken Carman, morning show host on 92.3 The Fan, was among the people affected by this circumstance.

When Carman was doing the preview show for the NFL Draft, he turned his television from NBA.TV to another channel and then checked social media where he saw complaints. From there, he placed his television back on NBA.TV to discover that he too was blacked out and unable to watch the game, despite being a regular cable subscriber amid an era predicated by hastened cord cutting. Carman then asked if there were people who had the Bally Sports app and were also blacked out from watching the contest. Carman’s co-host Anthony Lima then explained he had learned of an issue with the geotracking that was not recognizing the locale where devices from which users were trying to access the game.

“It seems like they were there, and there were people who were not cable subscribers who said that they were blacked out, and then there were people who said they had Fubo,” Carman explained. “So I have somebody here who says that they have Fubo and they were able to watch it, but I know for a fact there were people who said they had Fubo and they were not able to watch that game last night. That is a miss.”

Lima continued by stating that he had never before received such a deluge of texts pertaining to a big game in the Cleveland area. People were evidently wondering how they would be able to access the game, leading some users to experiment utilizing VPNs to try and watch.

“I saw people, influencers, making screaming videos, and I understand the frustration, but we know – me and you know – we have to be able to have every game available to us, so that’s why we get cable,” Lima said, addressing Carman in his comments. “I don’t know what to tell people who somehow, someway – unless there was a legitimate mistake made – did people think they were going to be able to get NBA.TV?”

“It is the internet – you can’t fix that type of mistake quickly?,” Carman replied. “That’s just a solid bleep you to everybody for the night.”

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iHeartMedia to Launch Women’s Sports Audio Network with Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment

“This partnership effectively moves the coverage of women’s sports from 15% to 90% overnight through the power of audio.”

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Logos for iHeartMedia and Deep Blue Sports and Entertainment

iHeartMedia announced it is partnering with Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment to launch the Women’s Sports Audio Network (WSAN). Deep Blue is led by Founder/CEO Laura Correnti and former WNBA star Sue Bird as Chief Strategy Officer.

The brand is described as the first-ever audio platform dedicated exclusively to women’s sports podcasts, daily sports reports, spotlights and audio vignettes, social content, promotion and industry event presence, and will be available across iHeartMedia’s broadcast, digital and podcast platforms and everywhere podcasts are heard.

The new network will offer talent and programming year-round with talent such as former ESPN personality Sarah Spain and former WNBA and US Olympic Basketball star Sheryl Swoopes. iHeart has committed to running dedicated women’s sports reports daily across its network of over 500 stations and digital streams.

iHeartMedia Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Troberman said, “Women’s sports are on fire and so is audio. The timing is perfect to deliver on the massive fan excitement today and most importantly use the power of iHeart’s massive audience reach to ensure women’s sports gets the attention it deserves. We all win when the athletes, the fans and the brands get to play together every day in the biggest audio arena on the planet at iHeart.”

Deep Blue CEO Correnti stated, “While women’s sports continue to break ratings and attendance records on a seemingly regular basis – it’s imperative the media marketplace and commercial investment keep pace to not just meet consumer demand, but sustain this growth market. By partnering with iHeartMedia, we’re unlocking the ability to immediately share more women’s sports stories with more fans while addressing the need for more discovery, visibility and scale – a common pain point for the advertising and media marketplace in this space. This partnership effectively moves the coverage of women’s sports from 15% to 90% overnight through the power of audio.”

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Audacy Launches Audacy Sports

“We’re thrilled to bring together our unrivaled sports portfolio under Audacy Sports.”

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Graphic for Audacy Sports
Courtesy: Audacy

Audacy announced it is launching Audacy Sports, a new name which covers their over-the-air, streaming, podcasts and live events. Audacy has 40 owned-and-operated all-sports radio stations along with 160 sports streaming channels on the Audacy app and a sports podcast network featuring over 600 titles and live events. This announcement follows Audacy’s recent unveiling of Audacy Podcasts.

“We’re thrilled to bring together our unrivaled sports portfolio under Audacy Sports,” said Lee Davis, Senior Vice President of Sports Monetization, Audacy. “Consolidating our cross-platform sellable assets under one name creates a compelling opportunity for brands to connect with listeners at scale – through our digital and broadcast network platforms or locally, through our owned sports stations – wherever and whenever they tune into Audacy content.”

Audacy Sports also serves as the home to 150 professional and collegiate teams and produces two national multiplatform sports networks, Infinity Sports Network and BetQL Network.

Audacy Sports launches at the NFL Draft in Detroit as it will have five stations broadcasting from the same location near the draft. 670 The Score in Chicago, WEEI in Boston, 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, 106.7 The Fan and The Team 980 in Washington D.C. will all take part in special draft week broadcasts.

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