The 2022 TCS New York City Marathon, which is scheduled to run on Nov. 6, will be back at full capacity of 50,000 runners this year, and it’s bringing several upgrades to its broadcast.
Produced in coordination with 45 Live and distributed by IMG, the broadcast will be aired on ESPN2 across the United States, and on ABC7/WABC-TV in the New York City area. Organizers promise fewer interruptions of the professional athlete races, thanks to the introduction of two-box commercial breaks, and the broadcast will include split-screen features, allowing viewers to follow the pro women’s race, the pro men’s race, the pro women’s wheelchair race and the pro men’s wheelchair race simultaneously.
On top of that, the broadcast will feature helicopter-supported graphics with stats from the pro races, including a virtual map to track where runners are on the course and to show elevation and runners’ paces. This technology is being created specifically for the marathon by Sports Media Technology, which has provided broadcast technology to the NYC Marathon since 2009.
Also new for this year: ESPN Deportes will produce and distribute a domestic broadcast in Spanish for the race, marking the first time a Spanish-language broadcast of any marathon will be offered nationwide. That broadcast will air live on ESPN3 and the ESPN app, and will re-air on ESPN Deportes Sunday evening.
The broadcast in Spanish “will increase access to one of New York City’s most iconic annual sporting events,” Kerin Hempel, interim CEO of New York Road Runners, said in a press release. “Through multiple local, national, and global platforms, we will be able to reach our diverse running community and share the magic of marathon Sunday with runners around the world.”
TV broadcasts of distance running have been subject to criticism, particularly for poor camera work or hiring announcers with no knowledge of the sport. In last weekend’s Chicago Marathon, eventual women’s winner Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya went out at world-record pace, leaving the rest of the elite women’s pack behind early—including American Emily Sisson, who was on pace for the U.S. women’s marathon record. The cameras stayed with Chepngetich, missing the opportunity to broadcast much of Sisson’s record-setting race. After the race, Sisson told reporters, “I never saw a vehicle or a camera, so I was like, ‘I must not be on American record pace because I figured they’d show it if I was.’”
Veteran track and field commentator Paul Swangard, who will be calling the marathon for the international feed, points out how much of a production challenge it is to cover marathons comprehensively. “Not once have I not worked with a group of people who wanted to cover [a distance running broadcast] as comprehensively as possible,” he told Sportico. “It’s not just not often the case that you can hit the expectations.”
The advancements in technology are giving production teams new options to better inform those watching the broadcast. “New York, with the addition of the Spanish language [broadcast], and being able to follow the athletes with a course graphic, all steps in the right direction,” Swangard said.
Coverage of the NYC Marathon will start at 8:30 a.m. and run until 11:30 a.m.; pre-race coverage will be available on ESPN3 starting at 7 a.m., and a view of the finish line will be available on ESPN3 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
IMG secured a number of international broadcast partners for the race, including FloSports (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom), ESPN Brasil (Brazil), SMG Sports (China), Eurosport (Pan Europe, Pan Asia, India), L’Equipe (France), RAI (Italy), TV Asahi (Japan), Sky Mexico (Mexico), NOS (Netherlands), Sky (New Zealand), SuperSport (Sub-Saharan Africa), ESPN International (South America), and TVE and TV3 (Spain).