Last month, we wrote about the shoddy picture quality during ESPN’s broadcast of Oregon’s upset loss to Stanford. Those issues popped up again during the Washington State-Oregon game this past Saturday, and were apparently also evident during October’s UCLA-Arizona and Utah-UCLA games.
The Oregonian’s John Canzano blasted what he and other sources called a “low-budget” broadcast, which ESPN took exception with. A follow-up column from Canzano on Monday clarified and confirmed many of the details from his Sunday column, including that the broadcast did not have a stage manager, used a back-up spotter, and did not have a “set day” before the broadcast (which is used “to work out bugs and stage equipment,” per Canzano).
But the main issue was apparently related to the production truck and equipment, which is not exactly fresh off the line.
Just wait until ESPN reads this column. It may never speak to me again. Because I made some calls and reached one of the camera operators who was working Saturday’s game in Eugene. Bill Rice told me, “All of that gear that we were using is old and wore out. It’s their ‘E’ show. That truck is a long way from home. That’s ESPN’s ‘E-level’ show.
The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained the information sheet that was distributed to crew working for ESPN in front of the Oregon-WSU game. The truck itself was built in 2012, but the key equipment inside was manufactured 10-25 years years ago.
Well, that helps explain that. This doesn’t make the quality issues with the Pac-12 broadcasts more palatable, but at least the problem has been acknowledged.
ESPN also confirmed to Canzano that the equipment for that crew would be replaced in time for this weekend’s broadcast.
ESPN’s spokesperson told me Monday morning it is providing the “E crew” new equipment this week. Arizona State and Oregon State fans will be pleased to know that the network is swapping out the truck equipment for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. PT broadcast, which should alleviate the viewing issues.
Great timing – just a couple of weeks before the end of the regular season. Hopefully, we won’t see these quality issues pop up again.
On another note, I think this spotlights an issue with one network having the rights to so many conferences, airing so many games each weekend. Eventually, the standards are going to slip somewhere down the lineup. That’s going to upset fans, schools, and conferences, and could end up having an adverse effect when it comes to the time when contracts need to be renewed.