FIRST Championship: Made for TV?

Last year, NASA TV cut off FIRST Championship coverage at 6 pm to show pre-recorded ISS footage - the final matches weren’t broadcast!! Afterwards, there was a lot of discussion about FIRST being ready for prime-time and how to improve the television (webcast) coverage of FIRST events, for example:

FIRST “Final 4”: Ready for live TV (non-NASA TV)?
Ready for TV Yet?

So, I’ve started this thread earlier, hoping that some of the better suggestions can be put into practice at this year’s Championship.

The “Final Four” matches on Einstein could be telecast the way professional sporting events are now shown. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Multiple cameras covering the action with a director selecting the best action to broadcast live (this requires a knowledgeable broadcast team)
  2. Play-by-play and “color” commentators analyzing alliances and strategies
  3. Replays with multiple camera angles, slow motion and cameras tracking individual robots
  4. FIRST “info-mercials” (Dean, Woody, Dave, …)between matches as well as “behind the scenes” shots (pit activity, alliance strategy planning, etc.)
  5. Interviews with students, mentors and FIRST “graduates” that have gone on to college, getting the real purpose of FIRST out to the public.
  6. Acknowledge the major sponsors of FIRST, maybe they’ll further help subsidize the event coverage (i.e. commercials)

The better the packaging of FIRST for the general viewership, the more they’ll want to see, support and maybe even participate in FIRST.

There are upsides and downsides to getting FIRST to prime-time, but eventually FIRST will need to go there.
What are your thoughts??

i agree that it will take a while for this to happen, but it does eventually need to happen. once FIRST robotics gets more and more popular, then it will become more and more of a need. i am kinda upset that sometimes NASA tv zones out of the FIRST coverage, but that is NASA’s decision. i do agree that it needs to be done, but the sport needs to get much bigger.

Interesting?!?!?! I invision that there will be a four hour show dedicated to each division, (they’d show only the best of the matches) and then a four hour show dedicated to eliminations.

I like where you’re going with this. I’ve been thinking about the same thing for a while, and I have come up with some of the same points to hit. We (The Blue Alliance) tried to do something like this at UTC, but unfortunately the logistics of a live telecast were a bit too daunting and the plan fell through. We did put together an “after the fact” segment, which is viewable here:

The FRC Championship event is again scheduled to be broadcast on NASA TV this year:
April 13, Friday
9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. - FIRST Robotics Championship, Georgia Dome, Atlanta (Public Channel)
2 - 6 p.m. - Great Moonbuggy Race Live Interviews - MSFC (Education Channel)
TBD p.m. - Expedition 15/14 U.S. Media Interviews – JSC (Media Channel)

April 14, Saturday
9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. - FIRST Robotics Championship, Georgia Dome, Atlanta - GSFC (Public Channel)
2 - 6 p.m. - Great Moonbuggy Race Live Interviews - MSFC (Education Channel)

Note that the broadcast time has been extended to 6:30pm EDT on Saturday, so the final matches should be seen in their entirety. Even though I’ll be there in person, I like to replay the matches (especially from Einstein field) to watch the game played at it’s highest level. It would be great if the NASA TV telecast shows replays of the matches from different camera angles so you could see all of the wild and crazy action that occurs on Einstein.

I will be very interested how the Discovery Channel (in Canada) will cover GTR this weekend, apparently they are going to try and cover it in a Olympics style. Hopefully a good amount of this coverage will make it to tv, the hosts of their daily show are covering the event. I would be interested to see if this type of coverage will be possible for the championships, and how successful it would be. We will see after this weekend!

I just read in the above thread that the Discovery coverage of GTR will be available for viewing outside of Canada! Very cool!! I can’t wait to see how they handle the broadcast.

What channel will Championships be on?


Check with your Cable / Satellite Company to see if they carry the NASA Channel. If they do then ask which channel it’s on / If they do carry the channel does it come with your subscription.

For Dish Network (Satellite) NASA TV is on Channel 213

Check with your Cable / Satellite Company to see if they carry the NASA Channel. If they do then ask which channel it’s on / If they do carry the channel does it come with your subscription.

For Dish Network (Satellite) NASA TV is on Channel 213

Thank You

I don’t think FIRST knows what the want, neither do you guys, all we know is that we want something else more noticeable than NASA, i mean even on the program it doesn’t even mention FIRST.

we will see how the Discovery Channel does with their coverage of GTR, maybe if there is a good audience, we could see the championships, (is it too late for this year…) on the Discovery Family channels, (Discovery, Discovery Kids, Science, Discovery Times, TLC) etc. channels.

wait and see…

I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’d like to see in the telecasts (see the first post in this thread). I’m very interested in seeing whether Discovery Canada does something like this.

If you’ve watched the prior year telecasts, sometimes they show close-up action on the field that is not part of the crucial play in the match. The play-by-play announcer is excitingly describing something other than what the viewers are seeing. That’s more than just a little distracting - you know you’ve missed something big. With replays, you can see the action that might be the turning point in the match, maybe even in slow-motion and multiple angles. This is pretty standard for football, basketball, and other sports telecasts. It seems to me that FIRST competitions really need this kind of coverage because action occurs simultaneously all over the field. A wide-angle shot of the whole field might be OK for scouting, but not for general viewership.

I don’t understand your statement about “on the program it doesn’t even mention FIRST.”

The NASA TV schedule lists:
April 13, Friday
9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. - FIRST Robotics Championship, Georgia Dome, Atlanta (Public Channel)

April 14, Saturday
9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. - FIRST Robotics Championship, Georgia Dome, Atlanta - GSFC (Public Channel)

If you mean the program guide on Dish Network, DirecTV, or your cable, NASA probably hasn’t yet provided that schedule information to the broadcasters.

Usually you won’t see the upcoming program listing until its a week before its actually aired. I guess the reason behind this is because “Everything is subject to change”. Nothing in life happens on a perfectly made schedule, Everything happens on a “To Be Determined” basis & Pre-Recorded Basis. Whatever the case may be its up to the satellite & cable companies to carry the channel and up to the subscriber to ensure they have that channel to be viewed. I’m gonna try and setup my laptop at the hotel to record the NASA broadcast and see how many fields I can record at one time. Hopefully the SDP Program (which acts like a VCR Timer) will allow multiple recordings.

Referring to last year and this years kickoff, even when i was tuning in, the only thing it said was “Education File” Those come on EVERYDAY, maybe if they bothered changing that listing, i think we could get anouther 1,000-2,000 other people

I think at least Championships should be televised. You could definitely draw a good viewer base from the thread starters method. You could also make a series where you follow a few times through their whole season, then replay this in the fall in preparation for the upcoming season.

As other people have mentioned, the real thing that is needed here is better coordination between the play-by-play announcers and the video directors. In a real televised sporting event, the play by play guy can see not only the final TV output, but several other camera shots as well. He then typically choses to describe something which is caught by one of those cameras (or, in the rare occasion that he mentions something not on one of his monitors, he’ll very carefully describe exactly where it is happening so that the director can tell one of the camera guys to cover it). The director then choses which shots to cover based primarily on what the announcer is saying.

I’ve never seen this sort of coordination at a first event.

Professional football telecasts have the multiple angles, graphical “telestrators”, slow motion replays, and play-by-play analysts - all orchestrated by a director. This is not going to happen instantly with FIRST, but moving in that direction can really improve the public’s interest in the game. Right now, the games sometimes appear chaotic and the strategic aspects are almost completely lost in the televised coverage. I’m looking forward to the GTR coverage by Discovery Channel Canada to see how they do (and to watch a really great regional)!!

The only type of coverage that, in my opinion, that would do any FIRST event the proper justice that it deserves is what Cable channel 4 ran in Rochester for this year’s FLR. Which is basically what you see on the screen at the event. Uninterrupted and commercial free.
Therefore there is no way nay major network would even think of touching this with a ten foot pole. They can’t provide the amount of coverage to do the event justice and they wouldn’t get the return on the event in ad revenue to satisfy them. Outside of public access or public television or one of the science channels FIRST won’t work on the major networks or any of the sport channels (yes ESPN did the championship for a bit but they won’t cover hundreds of matches commercial free no matter how good it is for the American public. They’re one the reasons sports have become the bloated overexosed monster that Dean keeps railing against).

Aside from having the Championship televised live, I think it would be cool to have a type of documentary that could be televised on cable TV (e.g. on Discovery Channel). They could go to teams’ schools and interview the kids and maybe even visit during build season to check up on the students’ progress as well as maybe give behind-the-scenes looks about what it takes to make these competitions happen. They could do a few teams, like a rookie team and some more well established teams. I don’t know, to me it seems that that would be the easiest way to affect more people. Before I participated in FIRST my parents and relatives had no big interest in watching the competitions, it was only after they saw how much of an effect FIRST has on students that they became really interested. I think it would be cool for America to see the entire build process as well as the Competitions. This would give people a better understanding of FIRST as well as a better understanding of the game before they watch any competitions. I know this thread was created to discuss live broadcasts, but here are my two cents anyway:) .