NBC Sports Outlines Coverage Plan For '20 Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes this weekend will be the "biggest athletic event in New York since the COVID-19 pandemic brought sports to a halt," and NBC has an "elaborate plan to chronicle it, albeit with the now-familiar challenges caused by social distancing and on-air personalities scattered across the continent," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. NBC will use "only seven of its own cameras, down from the usual 25 or so," but the NYRA "will supplement that with a couple of dozen more, its production crew working closely" with NBC Sports producer Rob Hyland's crew. The only on-air personnel on site "will be race announcer Larry Collmus and reporters Britney Eurton and Kenny Rice." Host Mike Tirico, analyst Randy Moss and Hyland will be at NBC Sports HQ in Stamford, Conn. Analysts Jerry Bailey and handicapper Eddie Olczyk will be at their respective homes in Florida and Illinois. There will be "no on-track interviewer after the race," but the "NYRA outrider will wear a microphone attached to a high-powered radio, allowing Tirico, Bailey and Moss to speak to the winner." Three jockeys "will wear microphones." The broadcast will "integrate fans from virtual watch parties," and owners who are not on site will "appear via remote cameras." Hyland said that a "total of about 50 people will work the Belmont this year for NBC, compared with more than 200 on site last year" (NEWSDAY, 6/17).
MORE DETAILS: SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen notes NBC will "start its live coverage in England, airing five races from the historic Royal Ascot" at 9:00am ET. It will then air the Wolves-West Ham EPL game from London Stadium. Belmont Stakes coverage will start at 2:45pm ET and end at 6:00pm. This year's Belmont will "not be run at the traditional distance," as many horses "didn't have the opportunity to prep for such a marathon." This year's running will be at a mile and an eighth. Although there will not be a crowd singing "New York, New York" when the jockeys and horses come on the track for the race, NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke said that they have "plans for the event involving tradition and 'some surprises,' but would not elaborate" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/15 issue).