It should come as no surprise that there’s plenty impressive about the NBCU Boston Media Center in Needham, the sparkling new home of NBC Sports Boston, NBC 10 Boston, NECN, and Telemundo Boston.
The price tag — $125 million — is certainly impressive. So is the building’s size, a massive 160,000-square-foot nerve center that now houses the four media outlets at 189 B Street in Needham.
Its studios look spectacular on television, as NBC Sports Boston viewers first discovered during the unveiling before Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies. The new set almost resembles a bright modern extension of the parquet floor. Kevin Garnett might say it was tastefully done.
But the big question, as it always is in situations when media outlets spend for all sorts of dazzling bells and whistles, is how does it make the experience better for the viewer?
Chris Wayland, the senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Boston as well as the senior VP and station manager of NBC10, Telemundo, and NECN, had a ready answer.
“I think the previous studio probably wasn’t equiped technically and with enough space to tell the stories we wanted to tell as well as we can,’’ said Wayland, who was named to the NBC Sports Boston post in November. “But with the amount of monitors and touch screens and LED monitors that will be on the floor, we’re going to be able to tell the sports stories of Boston in a way that we weren’t able to do prior.”
He provided an example of how the technology will make NBC Sports Boston’s content even more appealing to viewers
“If we’re in Patriots season and Ted Johnson is in studio and he’s breaking down coverages in a game, we will now have multiple spaces that will allow us to get into much more intricate detail in a way that we weren’t able to before,’’ said Wayland. “So the audience will have a much better understanding of what he would be able to verbally explain, but not be able to show before.”
Similarly, when the Celtics are playing, an analyst such as Brian Scalabrine will be able to break down plays and offenses and defenses on a massive touchscreen, similar to what Kenny Smith does so well on TNT’s lauded “Inside The NBA’ studio program.
“We’re going to be able to do the same type of things locally,’’ said Wayland. “The viewer is going to get a much more rich and tangible experience with the teams that we cover.”
NBC Sports Boston, which moved from Burlington to the new Needham studios, takes its place in a complex that includes six production studios, six control rooms, and a podcast studio, among other workplace options and amenities.
The new studios, according to Wayland, has been designed so that it is adaptable to future advances in broadcasting technology.
“We understand next generation of audiences consumes differently,” he said. “We built this studio with the plan to build content to those distribution platforms, content that’s not just made for traditional cable and broadcast television production.”
It wasn’t that long ago that NBC Sports Boston deemphasized relatively equal coverage of Boston’s professional sports teams, instead focusing heavily on the Celtics, whose regional cable television rights are owned by the network, and the immensely popular Patriots.
But Wayland said NBC Sports Boston plans to strike more of a balance now, even with the Red Sox and Bruins broadcast rights remaining NESN properties.
“I think what we’ll be able to do is create product not just for the Celtics, but for all of the pro teams. We hope to become the destination for all pro sports in Boston,’’ he said. “The Celtics are ours, so they’ll always get the most coverage, but you’ll see an uptick in other four teams.
“It’s a pro sports town. That’s where we’re going to spend our time and what we’re built to do.”