ESPN’s Production Includes 100 Cameras, ESPN3 Second-Screen Experience
With a record 100 cameras in use, ABC will televise the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29 at 11 a.m. ET. Annually one of ESPN’s largest and most complex television productions, the Indianapolis 500 telecast is even larger this year with the milestone of the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Airing on ABC for the 52nd consecutive year, and streaming live on WatchESPN for the first time, the telecast begins with a pre-race show at 11 a.m. and then polesitter James Hinchcliffe will lead the field of 33 to the green flag at 12:17 p.m. The race telecast of the premier event of the Verizon IndyCar Series is presented by Firestone.
“We’ve been pointing to the 100th Indianapolis 500 for a long time and now that it’s here, we’re more proud than ever to be associated with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, League Sports Programming. “Producing this telecast is a labor of love for our team and this will be our biggest year ever. We’re all really looking forward to Sunday.”
“100 cameras for the 100th” will include three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race. Also in use will be four Ultra Hi Motion cameras to enhance views and replays, with the cameras capable of shots around the entire 2.5-mile track as well as all of pit road. The cameras are capable of producing images up to 20 times slower than live action, allowing viewers to see detail not visible at regular speed.
The camera count also will include the use of aerial cameras located in a blimp and a helicopter and four robotic cameras with overhead views of the pits. Sound will be captured for viewers by 287 microphones, including 235 positioned around the racetrack and 26 mounted in race cars. Four uplinks and 16 transmission paths will be utilized and 170,000 feet of fiber cable will connect the equipment. Some 200 people will be part of the production.
Viewers of the ABC telecast will have the option of a second screen experience through a choice of live streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3, which will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN.
Drivers carrying onboard cameras during the race will be Hinchcliffe, defending 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon as well as Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves. Castroneves will be trying to become only the fourth driver to win the race four times.
For the telecast, lead announcer Allen Bestwick will be joined in the booth for analysis by former series drivers Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, with Goodyear in his 15th season as an analyst and Cheever his ninth. The announcer team also will include pit reporters Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch and ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak will host the pre-race show from the Speedway’s iconic Pagoda. Reporter Marty Smith will join the pre-race show and take viewers inside some of the activities going on around the track.
ESPN’s production of the race telecast will be led by senior coordinating producer Amy Rosenfeld and coordinating producer Kate Jackson, with Jim Gaiero producing and Bruce Watson directing. Jackson will produce the pre-race show with Chip Dean directing. ESPN senior coordinating producer Shawn Murphy, who produced the Indy 500 telecast the past three years, has been a special consultant for the production team.
Among the features that will air during the pre-race show or in ESPN SportsCenter’s Indianapolis 500 coverage:
- “Legends of the Speedway,” a roundtable discussion with the only four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500: A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Moderated by Allen Bestwick.
- In an ESPN Sport Science segment, driver Graham Rahal gives viewers a sense of the speeds and G-forces of the Indy 500 by driving his race car at speed and a passenger car at the highway speed limit around the 2.5-mile Speedway.
- How much have race cars used in the Indianapolis 500 evolved since the first race? The feature includes many cars from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
- “Speed, Risk and Danger,” a graphical and animated looked at the danger zones of the track over the past 100 years.
- How big and fast is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? The George Washington Bridge, two aircraft carriers and more venues can fit inside.
- A Memorial Day feature: Indiana natives who survived the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, recall the day.
ABC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have one of the longest-running active relationships between a network and a sporting event, with the event first airing on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1965. Weekend coverage of the Masters has aired on CBS since 1956 and ABC has aired the Little League World Series since 1963.
SportsCenter at the Indianapolis 500
ESPN’s signature news and information program SportsCenter will have an expanded presence at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Included will be two live one-hour programs on Sunday, May 29, the morning of the race, both airing on ESPN, with hosts Matt Barrie and Sara Walsh on a set in the Speedway’s busy Pagoda Plaza area. The first program will air from 8-9 a.m. with the second airing from 10 a.m. until ABC’s telecast begins at 11 a.m. On Saturday, May 28, the day before the race, Barrie and Walsh will host a three-hour edition of SportsCenter from the Speedway beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPN.
In addition to previewing the premier race of the Verizon IndyCar Series with drivers, team owners and others, and welcoming some special guests, the SportsCenter programs also will pay tribute to the long history of the Indianapolis 500 with guest appearances by past champions and special features and elements.
Other editions of SportsCenter Thursday-Sunday will carry reports from the Speedway, including segments with anchor Lindsay Czarniak in the 6 p.m. show on Thursday and Friday, May 26-27. After the race, the winner will have an interview with SportsCenter, and Czarniak will have a SportsCenter Sunday Conversation with the winner that will air in the evening editions of the program. Reporters Marty Smith and Ryan McGee also will contribute to the SportsCenter coverage from Indy.
Former IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan was scheduled to visit ESPN on Tuesday, May 24, to appear on several editions of SportsCenter and other ESPN platforms.
The Indianapolis 500 on other ESPN Platforms
ESPN.com will provide surround coverage of the Indy 500 with motorsports writer John Oreovicz joined at IMS by ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee and reporter Marty Smith. The site has already been previewing and preparing for the event with news, features and blogs from the Speedway since the track opened for Month of May activities.
espnW.com –Writer Tony Fabrizio has followed Grace Autosport, the all-women’s team that had planned to field an entry in the 100th Indianapolis 500 for driver Katherine Legge and reported on the team’s abandonment of its plans. Fabrizio also wrote on espnW.com about Norway’s 22-year-old Ayla Agren, who hopes to make her way to the IndyCar Series.
WatchESPN and ESPN3 – This year, for the first time, ABC’s telecast of the Indianapolis 500 also will be streaming live on WatchESPN. Race fans will have the option of a second-screen experience during the Indy 500 telecast with a selection of streaming video from onboard cameras on ESPN3. Twelve drivers in the race will be carrying onboard cameras. ESPN3 is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets, connected devices and smart TVs through WatchESPN. The network is available through an affiliated video and Internet subscription across all major providers nationwide.
ESPN International — In addition to television in the United States on ABC, ESPN also distributes Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts through a combination of ESPN networks and syndication to more than 184 countries and 110 million homes. In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world can watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network.
ESPN Player — Again this year, ESPN Player is bringing fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (excluding the UK, France, Italy and Sub-Saharan Africa) live and on-demand coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season as a channel on the digital subscription service. Subscribers also are able to take advantage of ESPN Player’s on-demand service to watch all the qualifying action before tuning in to watch the resulting race live. ESPN Player is available on Mac, PC, iPad and Samsung Smart TVs, with high quality streaming on all devices. Information is available at ESPNPlayer.com.
ESPN the Magazine — In the WNBA20-themed issue, which went on newsstands May 20, The Mag looks at the ways the 100th running of the Indy 500 could prove even more historic. Plus, ESPN’s Nicole Briscoe and Ryan McGee talk speed vs. safety in an installment of SportsCenter on the Road.
ESPN Classic started helping fans ready for the Indy 500 with airings of classic Indy 500 races throughout the week of the race. The airings began Monday, May 23, at 6 a.m. with the 1979 race won by Rick Mears and will continue through Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m.
ESPN on Demand — Available in approximately 70 million television households, ESPN On Demand is the perfect place for Indianapolis 500 fans to get excited about the big race. Viewers can dive into the Indy 500 archive On Demand to view highlights from Al Unser Jr.’s wins in ’87 and ’92, Dario Franchitti’s wins in ’10 and ’12, and highlights from Juan Pablo Montoya’s win in 2015.
ABC Television – ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight programs will air segments on the Indianapolis 500. In addition, Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist for ABC News and Good Morning America, will host the celebrity red carpet prior to the start of the race.
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