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Volume 21 No. 1
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Networks build buzz for NFL draft in Chicago

NETWORKS

Chicago builds buzz for Draft

Forget about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The real star of this year’s NFL draft will be the city of Chicago, which is hosting the event for the first time later this week.

Producers with both ESPN and NFL Network say the move from New York to Chicago has created a buzz around the event that hasn’t existed for several years.

“New York was great, but there’s an energy in Chicago that’s different,” said ESPN’s senior coordinating producer Seth Markman, who will be overseeing the network’s production from the event. “The draft has looked the same in New York for a long time. Chicago has totally embraced this event in a way that I haven’t seen before.”

NFL Network’s coverage will be directed by Chicago native Charlie Yook, a coordinating producer, who plans to show off his hometown.

“We’re going to showcase Chicago into this drama we call the NFL draft,” he said. “The biggest difference from last year will be in its scope and feel. It’s going to feel bigger. … I’m treating it like a Super Bowl city.”

ESPN will produce studio shows “NFL Live” and “NFL Insider” on-site from Grant Park in Chicago. It will produce “SportsCenter” segments from the park, which is being renamed Draft Town and will have a Super Bowl week-style feel. Markman said ESPN didn’t take studio shows to New York because they would have been shot in an empty Radio City Music Hall during the day.

As for the production, Markman is promising a less-is-more approach. “We want to see the team pick and hear instant analysis of that pick,” he said.

As in past years, NFL Network coverage will be marked by access. It will have cameras in at least 15 team draft rooms and it will provide coverage from 20 team draft parties.

— John Ourand