NBC Sports RSN’s innovate and elevate with Tagboard & Fingerworks Telestrator

The Goal

Streamline broadcast production workflows for home and away live sports productions, and deliver next level experiences for viewers through interactive content.

The Technology

  • Tagboard interactive graphics into all studio and live game productions
  • Integrated Tagboard into Fingerworks Telestrator for road live game productions
  • Real-time social onto broadcast for breaking news, storytelling, and instant reactions
  • Interactive elements for audience engagement and polling (Tagboard Polls, IG Polls, and X polls)
  • Alternative broadcasts around live game productions (Hawkcast on NBC Sports Chicago)

The Result

Efficient and elevated cloud workflows built for home and away productions that cut interactive graphic build times down by 90%. Empowered NBC Sports Regional Networks’ production teams the freedom to move away from only using pre-produced content and instead react and produce elevated content and live audience polls at unheralded speeds. Took content from online to on broadcast in 5 seconds and opened the door to alternative live broadcasts, which NBC Sports Chicago found great success with via their Hawkcast, implementing social, polling, and player stat graphics.

“It literally is a button click.”No we’re not talking about the Staples button, but when asking Rusty West, Coordinating Producer of Live Events Technology at NBC Sports Bay Area, about integrating Fingerworks Telestrator and Tagboard, the response is ‘that was easy.’ Now the teams at NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports Chicago are using these platforms to push the envelope on innovation – producing elevated content that’s efficient and engaging.

You have to understand that if something comes down the line, it literally is on air 5 seconds after it happens. It’s insane.

Rusty West – Coordinating Producer of Live Events Technology at NBC Sports Bay Area

NBC Sports Regional Networks brought Rusty West to the Bay Area to deploy innovative broadcast technology that delivers next level experiences for viewers. That began with integrating Fingerworks Telestrator into their live game productions both on the road and at home – Handing broadcast analysts the tools to illustrate over live video to breakdown game action or highlight areas of interest. While digging deeper into Fingerworks’ platform, Rusty discovered a Tagboard button, a cloud graphics platform and secret weapon that was about to cut time spent building graphics by 90%.

Social to screen at insane speeds

The previous workflow when it came to putting interactive social graphics on-broadcast can be described as “terrible”. When Rusty showed the Tagboard integration to the production team, who had grown used to cut and paste workflows for getting social to screen, eyes were opened and new speeds of production were uncorked. As Rusty describes it, “you have to understand that if something comes down the line, it literally is on air 5 seconds after it happens. It’s insane” – The world quickly spread to other NBC Sports Regional Networks.

“Tagboard is an exceptional platform that has made our on-air programming exponentially better,” said Joe Collins, Executive Producer, Live Events at NBC Sports Chicago. “Through Tagboard’s expertise in audience engagement, we are able to curate social media content for our live pro game telecasts and accompanying studio shows at speeds like we’ve never seen before.”

Not only was it getting content on air much faster, but the time saved opened new possibilities for storytelling. Previously, “it had to be a really good social post to put it on because you’re talking many, many minutes, which as we know, is hours on live TV,” said Rusty. “It definitely was nothing that came in during the show, only pre-produced content”. Now the teams are bringing social content and social polls onto their broadcasts live and in the moment. Even integrating Instagram polls onto the broadcast and displaying the live results, which is an industry first.

Mini-cloud setup for live game productions

Regional Sports Networks spend a lot of time on the road throughout the year producing game broadcasts, and unlike national networks the RSN’s are in different production trucks for each game. Each truck is a little different, and the tools within them can vary, which creates headaches and drove Rusty to want to incorporate more cloud and remote production workflows where possible.

The home broadcast is a streamlined setup, but the Fingerworks and Tagboard combo forms a mini-cloud workflow that has created efficiencies and lowered production costs on their road games. With the Fingerworks machine stationed in San Francisco, it can be operated remotely by talent from any location, seamlessly integrating with the production truck’s switcher. The feed gets into the truck via a composite line, and with the Tagboard integration into Fingerworks, Rusty can run all interactive elements via that same line at no additional costs.  “We’re already paying for the box that we’re running from Fingerworks. We’re already paying for the Tagboard platform. So there’s zero cost to do this on an away game,” said Rusty. “Which our EP is like, ‘That’s freaking awesome’”.

Interactive alternative broadcasts with one person

As broadcasters explore new revenue streams, alternate broadcasts and live streams are gaining traction. NBC Sports Chicago’s Hawkcast, developed around Blackhawks games, exemplifies this trend, offering a unique viewing experience to engage diverse audiences. While audience habits have changed, so have production teams’ abilities to pull off these broadcasts; “the real bottom line is previously you needed a big sponsor to make that worthwhile because creating a production is expensive. Well, now it’s not,” said Rusty.

Tagboard is an exceptional platform that has made our on-air programming exponentially better.

Joe Collins – Executive Producer, Live Events at NBC Sports Chicago

“You can now do cloud production that you can piggyback off your main show, and use Tagboard for graphics,” said Rusty. “All of a sudden you can legitimately cut a second screen experience, or second broadcast experience with one person. I mean, that’s realistic now. The quality remains high so the audience doesn’t know the difference”.

Early success with integrating Fingerworks & Tagboard into their productions has streamlined workflows and elevated content production. Tune into any live broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area or Chicago and you’re guaranteed to see it in action. Rusty says they will continue to push the envelope and do more with both platforms. The message Rusty shares with others on his team when they launch new podcasts, pre- or post-game shows, or any other content to supplement their main channels is clear.

“Dude, use Tagboard for your graphics. It’s so easy.”