By Nicole Gennarelli
Kent State University TeleProductions partnered with The CW Network in Columbus and Mann Communications this fall to produce Thursday Night Lights, a five-game high school football series profiling Columbus teams.
Mann Communications contacted TeleProductions after hearing about its state-of-the-art satellite uplink/production truck and inquired about broadcasting a high school football package in Columbus. Once the partnership with CW Columbus was finalized to air the games, the whole deal came together.
“The great benefits to doing this program is marketing our truck and our TeleProductions program at Kent State,” said Jeff Bentley, TeleProductions executive producer for the Kent State Sports Network.
This program was the first time that high school football had been aired live on Thursday nights. The series aired five different Columbus area high school football games. Each week there were two student athletes from each team honored at halftime. Video stories of each player were played for spectators to watch.
“The truck traveled from Kent to Columbus every Thursday and on occasion left Columbus and went straight to an ESPN3 game at Ohio University or University of Toledo,” said Dan Tonelli, TeleProductions engineering and operations manager. “There were also a couple of weeks where we had Thursday, Friday and Saturday games.”
Many student workers at TeleProductions were able to gain real-world experience during the Thursday Night Light season, as well.
“That is what makes this whole thing a win-win situation,” Tonelli said. “The students get great experience, and the PR value of having our truck at all of these high schools is huge. The station is providing programming that no one else in the market is doing – probably the only opportunity most of these athletes will have to play in a televised game.”
Because of the professionalism and quality of programs TeleProductions produced, the CW Columbus will be continuing Thursday Night Lights in 2013 with a 10-game season.
“Our partnership with Kent State for Thursday Night Lights was successful due to the professionalism and experience of Jeff, Dan and their amazing production and engineering crew,” said Ellen Daly, vice president and general manager of The CW Columbus. “They share our philosophy of producing the best product possible, and this was certainly apparent in the look of the live HD broadcast of Thursday Night Lights. The positive viewer feedback was tremendous with an overwhelming response to the quality of our production.”
Currently, TeleProductions is in negotiations to take its truck to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, La., this year.
“We’ll be in a live productions capacity working for the BBC involved in its live production of the Super Bowl,” Bentley said. “We are excited at the real possibility of having our truck in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. We feel this is just another great opportunity to market not only our truck and department, but the whole university. It would be so cool to see the big Kent State logo on our truck in the massive production truck compound.”