ESPN researcher David Bearman details significance of stats behind the scenes

The day after one of the most historic nights for the NBA on Wednesday, an ESPN production researcher talked to students at the University of Miami’s School of Communication about what goes on behind the scenes at the network’s Stats and Information department.

David Bearman, manager of production research at ESPN Stats and Information, discussed the different roles that production researchers play in the broadcasting field. As a special guest to School of Communication Professor Ana Francois’ Strategic Media Management class, Bearman offered many examples as to how researchers work with different departments to provide their television and online audiences with all the statistics and information they need while watching sporting events like Kobe Bryant’s last game and the Golden State Warriors’ 73rd win, breaking the single-season record.

“There’s a researcher assigned to every single show,” said Bearman. “You’re working with the talent. You’re working with the producers — feeding them information or building graphics.”

Throughout the hour-long presentation, Bearman also discussed the importance of statistics in the way that the storyline presented is shaped. An example he provided included how the network had to reshape the storyline for Bryant’s last game. He discussed how the importance of Bryant’s last game was initially focused on the player’s legacy of his 20-year career. However, after Bryant scored a total of 60 points in the game, the focus of the story had to be reworked to include how statistically significant the game actually was for the audience to understand.

“Kobe was one of four players who has shot 50 times or more [in a game],” said Bearman, before going on to discuss how production researchers analyze this statistic. “We try to put in perspective that yes, he has more 60-point games than any player but one, but look at how many shots he took as well.”

Not only did Bearman discuss the importance of his department in ESPN, but also how students can become involved through internships. Bearman said that “experience” is the most important component to getting a good internship or job straight out of college. This particular part of the discussion interested freshman Luis Gonzalez, who said ESPN is the company he aspires to work for in the future.

“ESPN has been my dream employer ever since I can remember,” said Gonzalez, a broadcast journalism major. “Its the reason why I come to school and do well here — to work for this company and now I know experience is one of the main things they look for.”

Feature image courtesy Pixabay user edar.