Inside Out: CSN Game Night

As Seen On TV

Experts agree – CSN’s Joe Beninati, Craig Laughlin, Alan May and Al Koken are the triumvirate of hockey announce teams; genuine, engaging, natural born broadcasters. Their strengths become more obvious when we’re forced to watch a Caps game on either Versus or NBC. 

Wait! That's not Craig Laughlin...

It’s no surprise that behind the top drawer on-air talent, there is an amazing team off-camera.  We’re old TV hands ourselves and wanted to see what the CSN set up looks like. Brian Potter, the sports network’s Senior Director of Communications, gave us a tour ahead of a game and hooked us with Bill Bell, executive producer and director, and Steve Farrell, producer. 

From the production truck while getting elements ready for the evening’s broadcast, a Habs game, they spoke to us for about 10 minutes.  True to our C-SPAN pedigree, we just let the tape roll. 

We came in through Verizon’s fancy-pantsy entrance where Brian escorted us to the “Event Level.”  Basically, when you’re sitting in those great seats in the 100s sections, you’re sitting on top of Event.

There, in the cavernous space was the CSN HD truck. Literally a truck: hauled in and out depending on what’s happening, and who’s covering what.  On this day CSN was sharing space with another truck covering the Habs game for Canadian outlets. 

Bill and Steve were generous with their time, especially considering puckdrop was just hours away, and generous with their space, because TV trucks are…well, basically 10 pounds of sausage in 5 pounds of casing.

CSN serves 4.7 M homes in the immediate region as well as some areas, of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia.  All see the Caps games except for a very small number blacked out due to NHL guidelines.  As for what games make it to the HD channel, Brian tells us:

“We produce all Caps and Wizards games in HD and most of our cables affiliates now provide CSN Plus in HD to Washington/Baltimore-area viewers. In terms of whether it is the Wizards or Capitals who air on CSN Plus on nights when they both play, the main goal is to be fair to both teams in terms on the overall number of games a season (this year it is 11 Caps and 10 Wizards).

We work with the teams, but generally there are a variety of factors, including the opponent, location, game time, etc., that play a role in these decisions.” 

CSN produces 70 Caps games, the remaining 12 go to NBC or Versus.  For the playoffs Brian says , “…we will do every game possible. However, that only includes the first two rounds, since the conference finals and finals are all national TV games.”

There’s no people like show people.  Our thanks to the entire CSN team for their time and hard work all season long. CYA on TV.

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