ESPN's campus in Bristol.

Announcers broadcasting games remotely from the studio isn’t exactly a new concept in sports television. Especially for international events, networks have chosen to keep announcers local instead of spending lots of money to send entire broadcasting crews to far off places. We’ve seen it in the Olympics and the World Cup just as a couple of examples.

However, it is a practice that is expanding, especially at ESPN. The network has done dozens of remote broadcasts for its college basketball coverage over the past few years, even for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. In spite of the remote broadcasts not always being well received by fans, it’s a practice that is continuing this year.

Via Sports Video Group:

In a season jam-packed with games all over the country, ESPN will continue to use its REMI production model, which it has developed in recent years, for more than 200 basketball productions. To reduce headcount and facilities onsite at remote productions, ESPN will deploy resources and crew at its broadcast centers in Bristol, CT; Charlotte, NC; and the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

“We still have the same amount of producers, directors, and equipment,” Wilson said. “We’re just looking at innovative ways of becoming more efficient by leveraging [this] technology to extend the capture onsite back to the studio.”

For linear telecasts, Game Creek will be the main truck vendor for the Saturday Primetime games. Other mobile units that align with a game’s location and logistical needs will be used as well. To integrate universities and their production staffs, ESPN will use school control rooms for about 20% of games.

In case you’re wondering, “REMI” stands for Remote Integration Model, which basically means that the games will be called by announcers sitting in a studio somewhere instead of courtside. The technology might be cool and allow ESPN to save some much needed funds, but fans who pay attention to the game and the broadcast are smart enough to tell the difference. There are just things that announcers in the studio are always going to miss by not being in the arena, whether it be explanations of unique events or even properly capturing the energy of the arena.

In an age of increasing streaming platforms and an increased emphasis on live sports rights, this is a trend that is only going to grow. It may be worth asking whether ESPN really has to do this, couldn’t they just send announcers to every game and treat them equally? Unfortunately, that may not be possible. Because of the sheer amount of basketball games ESPN now airs between streaming and traditional television, the network probably has to make a decision like this to be able to successfully air them all.

The number of remote broadcasts was 45 in the 2014-2015 season and now it’s up to more than 200 games. As the demand for games on various platforms grows and the financial demands increase, this unfortunately may be a trend that only continues to grow in the coming years.

[Sports Video Group]

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.