ESPN's Jamie Reynolds Details Net's Massive U.S. Open Endeavor
ESPN VP/Production Jamie Reynolds is onsite at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center overseeing the net’s U.S. Open broadcast, which happens to be ESPN’s biggest production of the year with more than 160 hours of linear TV coverage. Reynolds recently touched on the challenges of broadcasting the slam, expanded qualifying coverage and more. Some answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
- On what makes broadcasting the U.S. Open unique: It’s a two-fold strategy. When we go to the Australian Open and Wimbledon, we have the luxury of sitting on top of the host feed providers. That gives us latitude. We pick and choose, based on the order of play, best names and best action. The challenge for us at the U.S. Open is we inherit that responsibly to handle 16 courts of coverage and then layer ESPN, ESPN Int’l and all the other broadcasters from around the world -- on top of it. As the stewards of the event, we have the obligation to get the baseline coverage right. Then on top of that, we add the ESPN sparkle.
- On expanding qualifying coverage this year: The investment is in trying to take advantage of what tennis can do both domestically and globally. There are a lot of great stories out there. Qualifying week is really about the new names trying to breakthrough, and others that have had a good career but now find themselves at a stage where they need to get into the main draw. We’ve got both ends of the spectrum.
- On managing expectations and staff: As long as the screen doesn’t go dark, we’re doing our job. It’s one of those sporting events on the international scale that requires passion and commitment. We have over 700 credentialed people helping us manage this event. There are very few events now that require a 21-day commitment. At the end of the day, it’s a very unique experience and you try to harness that energy and enthusiasm to turn it into something special.
- On his favorite personal U.S. Open moment: There was one night early in my tenure where John McEnroe was calling a Novak Djokovic match. During the warmup, Novak mimicked McEnroe’s mannerisms on the court and tried to coax him to come down and play. That was just an example of some of the lightheartedness that happens here at a night session. It’s sports theatre.
- His picks to win: I would love to see Serena Williams return. The journey she has been on has been remarkable and it would be romantic justice after everything that she’s gone through. On the men’s side, after what we witnessed with Djokovic and Roger Federer at Wimbledon -- I would like to see Roger come through.