Is doing PBP for ESPN3 a path to broadcasting PBP for ESPN?

A sportscaster had the opportunity to call a handful of games this basketball season on ESPN3. He is hopeful it will lead to a chance to broadcast games regularly for ESPN.

Do ESPN3 games lead to opportunities with ESPN? Maybe. This topic was recently explored in the STAA forums, with great insight provided by someone who has helped produce many E3 productions.

Your chances for moving up to ESPN partly depend on who hired you to do ESPN3 games.

Being hired by ESPN to do the games on E3 gives you a better chance than being hired by a conference or a school. Not to say someone in the latter scenario can’t move up. In the former scenario, though, you already have the attention of the folks at the top.

Not every ESPN3 event is the same. Lets look at the five types of E3 broadcasts and how talent is chosen for each:

1. Campus produced events

These are handled locally, normally with the school providing all staffing including talent. It is often a mix of staff, students and freelancers. The broadcasts are normally a slimmed-down version than what you would see on TV.

2. Conference produced events

These events are a more traditional TV presentation and often have a full TV truck on site. It’s not always a game of the week, but usually a rotation of marquee games within conferences. Talent is typically hired by the conference or by ESPN directly. Regional broadcasters are used frequently.

3. Network plus games

Bigger conferences like the SEC have schools bounce around between running games on traditional TV and, for example, SEC Network +. These games are often full productions with the identical production value as when they air on traditional TV. The method of talent selection varies. Local on-campus production rooms normally produce these broadcasts. The goal is for them to look and feel like the traditional TV broadcast.

4. Third party broadcast

These are easy to spot because they air on ESPN3 but don’t use ESPN graphics. ESPN has made arrangements with regional networks to carry the games, normally with a blackout restriction in the local markets. ASN, Time Warner, and others produce much of this type of programming and hire the talent.

5. Alternate programming packages

Insiders refer to these broadcasts as “The Ocho.” These broadcasts include sports like ABA basketball, Ultimate Frisbee, video game tournaments, Little League, American Legion and Independent baseball. These games vary in the way broadcasters are hired. Sometimes they use a local radio guy trying to break in to TV and get some tape.

ESPN3 in not the only carrier around doing this. Fox has started doing a live-to-web production on the Fox Sports Go app, and Campus Insiders have recently picked up several conferences.

One more piece of valuable information to share: Directors for these events are given a guide as to what ESPN wants and how to produce the broadcast. ESPN executives are sometimes sent a review of the broadcast, including a critique of the broadcasters.

Be assured that no matter how small the event, someone is likely watching.