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David Neal has been producing sports telecasts for three decades (and has 30 Emmy Awards to show for it), so he knows a thing or two about what makes good television.It isn’t just about covering the action — it’s about storytelling.
The athletes are “part of a cast of characters,” Neal told us on the phone yesterday. “You have to give people a reason to care about these characters.”
Neal worked alongside NBC Sports guru Dick Ebersol, broadcasting nine Olympic Games for NBC. Together, they helped perfect the personal brand of storytelling that these massive TV events are known for.
David Neal Productions, the company he founded last summer, will be handling the behind the scenes action at Professional Bull Riders events in 2011. The Built Ford Tough Series kicks off this weekend with a three day event at Madison Square Garden.
People don’t have to care about bull riding per se, as long as Neal and his crew can make people care bout the participants involved.
“Even the bulls have stories. Some fans come to cheer for the bulls.”
Neal plans to bring all the technology that sports TV has to bear on this weekend’s rodeo. Many of the riders will be mic’d up, cameras will be mounted right in the gates where they prepare do battle, “X-Mo” slow motion cameras will break down the replays, and microphones will pick up
Neal says that the sound in particular will wow the viewers.
But ultimately, Neal believes bull riding is perfect for this brand of storytelling — it’s simple for newcomers, yet nuanced enough for hardcore fans, and there’s a personal tale in every ride. Survive for eight seconds and you’re a winner.
The MSG Invitation will air on VERSUS this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET, and then on NBC on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. Check local listings.
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