Viewers may not realize, but each time they’re watching a game
on ESPN, Anthony Bailey’s fingerprints are all over it.
Bailey, who serves as VP of emerging technologies for ESPN, is
responsible for all of the added technology enhancements that go
along with game and studio broadcasts.
“Everything we do is to help with telling the story,” says Bailey.
His team is tasked with creating enhancements such as the ESPN
Ball Track, which calculates the height and distance a baseball travels
after it’s hit off a bat—its most visible use will come in next month’s
Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game—and the digital firstdown
marker that has become a staple in football broadcasts. “It’s
pretty hard to watch a football game without the first-down line out there,” Bailey says.
Bailey’s team has also developed ESPN Axis, which creates virtual replays that can “freeze frame” from multiple
angles, and the EA Sports Virtual Playbook, which allows studio analysts to interact with virtual players
from EA Sports’ video games. And all of the technology for SportsNation was developed by Bailey’s team.
Bailey knows that the added enhancements help both viewers and broadcasters. “What we’ve done over
the years is try to make it easier on [broadcasters],” says Bailey. “We work closely with our analysts to supply
data in front of them.”
With all these new technologies already out there and succeeding, Bailey says his team is now focused
on finding ways to keep costs down without sacrificing quality. “Can we do more events with less money?”
Among newer technologies, Bailey cites the advent of 3D television. “We saw it happening in the movie
industry and we thought, hey, this is something interesting we should start looking at,” says Bailey, whose
team was responsible for creating ESPN 3D, which launched in 2010.
Pushing 3D TV to become more mainstream has been easy for ESPN. But, says Bailey, “I think there’s been
a slow adoption to it. There’s need for content out there. The jury’s still out to see how well it gets adopted.”
Here’s one guarantee: As it does, Bailey and his team will have a hand in making it tell each sports story