Sr. Producer beIN Sports Dan Parisi Interview
The 2016 FIM World Superbike Championship will crown a new champion this weekend in Qatar, and it seems that the title fight is squarely between the two Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10 riders–the reigning SBK Champ Jonathan Rea and 2011 SBK Champ Tom Sykes. Dan Parisi, Senior Producer at beIN SPORTS, is a fellow rider and race enthusiast that we’ve talked with before.
Parisi shared his thoughts about the 2016 Word SBK season, not just as a producer but as a racing fan. He also offered plenty of other insights about producing the racing content that we race enthusiasts can’t do without.
Ultimate Motorcycling: Hey Dan, thanks for joining us. Would you mind telling me a little about what you’ll be doing this weekend for the final round of WSBK?
Dan Parisi: As far as the content for the weekend goes, I’ll be overseeing all aspects of production. The good thing is, my role at beIN Sports is evolving, which is kind of the direction it’s supposed to be going in (laughs). My position as Senior Producer is to oversee and manage all motorsports production that we do. When I started earlier this year, just because of my experience and knowledge of motorsports, and specifically motorcycle road racing, I’ve been doing a lot more of everything involved with the final production.
Over the course of the season, I’ve been able to transition a few of my fellow producers into more of the line-producing role, which means putting them in the chair and really executing the actual broadcast. I oversee and manage them, and we’re working on educating them in an effort to get them to the next level. So, it’s a good thing. I’m working with them closely, and I’m very hands on (laughs) and have my hands in every part of the production. They remind me constantly that, and they mean it in a good way, that I’m very protective of our work. Sometimes it does drive them a little crazy, just because of what we’re trying to accomplish.
But this weekend, we’ll be joined by a producer by the name of Rick Mazza, who has been at beIN Sports for a few years, he’s part of the motorsports production team. He’s taking care of the live racing on this one. We’ve got a good program scheduled for the next couple days. We have a pre-race studio program, leading into race 1. We’re going to have Superbike veteran Larry Pegram, joined by George Metellus from Miami, in the studio.
With the world feed, we don’t have any control of what we get from the track. So we produce a pre-race show and utilize the world feed as it comes in.
UM: Interesting. When dealing with the world feed, how much of a delay do you actually have when getting video from the track?
DP: I’d have to look at the satellite specifics, but it’s literally a couple seconds for any live broadcast. The signal is going to come from Qatar, and I’m going to guess into London, then into Washington D.C. and then through fiber cables down to Miami is my guess – I haven’t looked at the technical specs that closely on this one, but based on experience, it’ll have to bounce off the satellite a few times and we’re looking at a few seconds.
UM: Awesome. I’ve always wondered what the true delay was, and it doesn’t seem to be all that significant. Now, with the world feed, are you guys able to “call the shots?” Since you guys don’t have your cameramen on the ground, like it would be at a MotoAmerica race, are you able to switch angles and have control of the cameras?
DP: No, not on this one. On the international stuff that isn’t possible. It’s the same scenario for MotoGP. In this case, WSBK has their own production team there and they produce the content that we get. With the world feed, everybody across the globe is getting the same exact program. That helps ensure continuity, so anyone with WSBK rights will be getting the same content as everyone else.
However, we make use of the WSBK commentators who I’m sure you’re familiar with; Gregory Haines and Steve English, and those guys great. We communicate with Haines on a regular basis, he’s fully aware of how we do our production for beIN Sports. The WSBK guys are very good about accommodating our format. They’re very good about making sure they don’t over-announce the race and pause at the right time so we can get out of the feed, go to commercial breaks, and do in-studio work.
UM: Good to know. What can viewers expect from beIN coverage this weekend?
DP: This weekend is an incredibly busy weekend for motorcycle road racing in general. Friday we had live MotoGP qualifying from Sepang in Malaysia. We had the MotoGP qualifying live, from 2 am to 3 am. I’ll come home and grab a couple hours of sleep, race back down to the office for the WSBK pre-race show, and live broadcast of Race 1.
Once we’re done with that, I’ll come home again, try to grab a late lunch and a quick nap. Then back to the office tomorrow night for a half-hour pre-race show, into the live broadcast of Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP. I’ll need to back in the office for all that by about 8 pm, hopefully I don’t oversleep. But I won’t, on race weekends like this, I usually don’t sleep. I’m like a kid in a candy store (laughs).
Early Sunday morning, I’ll come home for a few hours of sleep. Head back to the office again to cover live World Supersport, followed by a pre-race show and live coverage of Race 2 for WSBK out of Qatar. Then, after all that…maybe I’ll get some sleep.
It’s tough because of MotoGP in Malaysia, and WSBK in Qatar, it’s a little bit difficult to fit it all in.
UM: That sounds pretty intense. Will beIN start sending you overseas to manage the camera work on site?
DP: Oh I would love to head overseas and work with the guys at the track. If beIN would let me, I’d be on a plane every race weekend. Maybe as we move forward, I’ll have more opportunities to work with them, the calendar might be a little difficult since I’m the Lead Producer for the MotoAmerica Championship. There are a few race weekends where World Superbike conflicts with the MotoAmerica schedule.
UM: This is the close of the World Superbike season, so as a race fan and not as a producer, what are your feelings about the season overall?
DP: I think the season overall has been dominated by the Kawasakis. It was one of those question marks early one because with the new ZX-10R, no one was completely certain how well it would do. I think we all anticipated it to be good, but we didn’t know to what extent. Obviously, Kawasaki did their homework and have done an incredible job. But if you think about the Ducatis and Chaz Davies, Chaz had a great year despite a couple DNFs which really hurt his chances at the title but I also think that Chaz has finally found something with the Ducati, and he has to have Kawasaki crew sweating because he’s won the last four races in a row. Even today, he was the fastest in practice.
If I was Johnny Rea, there is now way that I’d want to see Chaz Davies finishing so strong, by continuing this winning streak into the off-season. Even if you win the championship and you lose the last race, it’s going to nag at you through the entire off season, especially for a guy as competitive as Rea.
So, I don’t think Johnny Rea wants to see Chaz beat him this weekend. And Davies wants to go out on a high-note. Another thing is that this is a track that Ducati has a great record at, that circuit. They have the most victories there out of any manufacturer.
I think the Yamaha was probably the biggest disappointment of the season. The new YZF-R1 seemed to struggle in World Superbike, and just didn’t perform up to expectations. Granted, the team did deal with some injuries throughout the season but it’s kind of a shock overall.
As a fan, I’m thrilled that we have Nicky Hayden in the championship. It’s unbelievable to see him competing in WSBK and continue to be competitive, even though the bike he’s on is outdated, and underpowered in comparison to the rest of the field. I think he came out and performed a lot better than people expected. Everybody can say that he got “one win in the rain,” but that’s part of being a champion. You need to be able to ride in all conditions, so he’s had a few podium results on his Honda and with the new CBR1000RR coming out, I think he’s going to be a big threat this season. He’s got some seat time at the circuits that he wasn’t familiar with until now, and it’s looking like we’re going to have a great 2017 year.
It’s a little bittersweet for me in terms of WSBK. It’ll be a few long months before we return, and as a racing fan I can never get enough of it, but it’s been a really good season so far. I can’t wait till the 2017 season to kick off.
UM: Good to hear. Speaking of MotoGP title holders, when you guys were producing the Motegi race, were you prepared for Marquez to pick up the 2016 title so early?
DP: You know, it’s just one of those things. Before the race, we were talking and said “Yeah, it would have to be a complete disaster for Lorenzo and Rossi in order for Marquez to win the championship at Motegi.” Between Rossi and Lorenzo, they would have to DNF, I mean, what are the chances of that happening? It doesn’t seem likely. They’re multiple-time champions (laughs).
When Rossi went down, we all just said “Well, okay his title hopes are absolutely finished but at least Lorenzo is still in the fight for the championship.” But when Lorenzo went down, we just said “wow,” there really was no other way to put it. Nobody went into this expecting that outcome.
So we celebrated the newly crowned MotoGP Champion but there are still so many more battles out there. The story lines continue, even though Marquez has the title wrapped up, you have Rossi and Lorenzo battling for 2nd place in the championship. I’m sure you know that those two don’t have the best relationship professionally and personally. I also think Lorenzo has a bit more drive to finish 2nd ahead of Rossi because he’ll be leaving to Ducati next year, which is to prove a point. Naturally, Rossi doesn’t want to see his main rival beat him.
I mean, last weekend we saw Marquez throw his bike down the road all on his own, which opened the door for Cal Crutchlow to get an indisputable win. Yeah, Rossi started in 15th and made his way through the pack but in the end couldn’t keep Crutchlow’s pace. That’s amazing because it’s shown how Crutchlow has really come into his own this season, and become a legitimate contender, even though he’s on a satellite back, not a full factory machine or team.
There are still a lot of stories that we can continue pulling from, and showing to the viewer, keeping them engaged during these last couple MotoGP races.
UM: Agreed. With MotoGP and WSBK coming to a close, what’s in store for you during the off-season?
DP: After the last MotoGP race happens in the next few weeks, I’m actually going to be taking a little bit of a vacation, just a few days (laughs). After that, we’re going to be working on some various programming that will be motorcycle related, that will be airing over the holidays. Oddly enough, it will be on both the English and Spanish channel, so I’m very excited about that.
I’m also trying really hard to stay on top of our digital platforms like our social media, keeping content flowing in order to maintain a good relationship with our viewers. You know, creating good compilations that include great passes, winning moments, and crashes. The crashes are tough; racers don’t like it, and many producers don’t approve of it either, but the public loves it.
We’re also in the process of developing the strategies and content for 2017. So there really isn’t much rest for me (laughs). I’m just in it, we have a great team and we’re all in it 110%. I’m probably going to drive everyone crazy with all of our motorcycle content, but that’s my passion.
UM: Sounds good. From where you sit, do you see beIN continuing their investment in motorsports for the US market? You’ve been associated with motorsports television for many years, so what’s your take on all this?
DP: It is a personal investment for me, and I do see the network moving towards increasing resources for motorsports in general. What I can say is that a lot of things I’m doing is a very positive move, and a move that will help expand our commitment to motorcycle racing as a whole.
But beIN has become for the North American home for motorcycle road racing, so I’d like to reiterate that fact. I’m just glad that I get to share my passion for motorcycle racing, and help keep it going on the network.
UM: Awesome, we appreciate it!
DP: No problem, thanks!