A few weeks ago, World Soccer Talk had the pleasure of sitting in on a typical Saturday production of the Premier League by NBC at their studios in Stamford, Connecticut. We wanted to go to see what a typical day was like, and to give you — the readers — a better understanding of NBC’s attention to detail.
Kartik Krishnaiyer (senior writer) and Joshua Tomlinson (videographer) joined me on our trip from West Palm Beach and back. After traveling up on a Friday night, we arrived in White Plains and then drove to downtown Stamford, which was quite deserted on a Friday night except for a Taco Bell parking lot that looked like a scene from the movie Fast and Furious.
On the Saturday morning, we were scheduled to arrive at NBC’s studio in town at 9:30am, so we ended up watching the Manchester City against Hull City match in the hotel and then on our mobile devices as we made our way to the studio.
On our approach to the NBC Sports building that housed all of the studios, the first surprise was that the building (a former Clairol factory) was accessible via a residential street. In my mind, I had pictured the building being located in a business district, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how we transported from a typical American street to a sprawling complex that resembled a campus, complete with trees creating a bucolic setting.
Upon entering the NBC Sports building, we waited in the lobby for a few minutes and took in the scenery. The lobby area resembled a concourse to a baseball stadium with signs pointing the way to a “mezzanine.” Around the corner was a large, open working space that was named Central Park. The natural light beamed in to the lobby and working area to create a calming feeling.
After NBC’s Senior Director of Communications Dan Masonson greeted us in the lobby, he took us on a tour of the building before taking us to the screening room, which was to be our base throughout the day. What was refreshing to see was that the entire building that day was focused on NBC’s Premier League coverage. So while the building wasn’t as busy or hectic as it normally would be, practically everyone there that day was focused on NBC’s coverage of the Premier League.
As part of the tour, we went into the control room to see the heartbeat of the operation as NBC Coordinating Producer Pierre Moossa, along with an expert team of 30 people, directed the live coverage, deciding which footage and cameras to use and giving cues to the talent (Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino) who were in the studio around the corner.
After the 10am ET matches kicked off, we were granted access to the spacious, bright and stunning studio that is used for NBC’s Premier League coverage. There, we had a few minutes to spend with Lowe, Earle and Martino where we exchanged pleasantries and caught up with one another. I had met Lowe and Earle before, so it was a pleasure to see them again. Both of them are as humble in person as they appear on camera. And Lowe knows the key to a man’s heart as she offered me a McVities Chocolate Digestive from her secret stash (but all credit must go to Earle’s wife for providing Lowe with her supply).
I had a chance to speak with Martino for a few minutes. While I was a critic of his earlier work with FOX Soccer, I wrote in June that he deserved another chance, and I’ve been extremely impressed by all of the hard work, research and analysis he has provided since NBC’s Premier League coverage launched on August 17.
After chatting with the talent, we retreated to the screening room where we were able to watch from all of the games being played that day. It was a first half of nil-nil matches throughout the Premier League, but we were glued to the large screen TVs affixed to the wall. The action in the second half picked up, which led into the last match of the day featuring Crystal Palace versus Sunderland.
After the Palace-Sunderland coverage ended at 3pm, we were whisked back into the studio to conduct our interviews before the taping of Match Of The Day began at 3:30pm ET. While we set up our equipment for the interview, we were able to eavesdrop on the production meeting for Match Of The Day, which was interesting to watch and listen to. It was refreshing to see that it was a team effort from everyone present to determine what talking points should be featured. That included everyone from the staff members to Moossa, Martino, Earle and Lowe, with Martino – in particular – being vocal in sharing his expert opinions.
After the production meeting ended, we interviewed Earle, Lowe and Martino on video as well as Moossa on audio. We were impressed by their professionalism, attention to detail and their genuine interest in sharing time with us during what is typically a 12-13 hour Saturday. With videos and audio in the bag, we had to rush out of there so they could record the Match Of The Day show, so we didn’t get a chance to say our goodbyes, but we didn’t want to get in the way either.
Our seven hours at NBC Sports Studio in Stamford flew by, but we left there with a better sense of what goes into a typical Premier League production as well as the knowledge that the Premier League coverage is, for the next three years, in very good hands.
Here’s our slideshow of images from our day at NBC Studios: