Dan Lannon Headshot

Dan Lannon is leading technology and innovation at Disney/ESPN

Posted on:

< < Back to

Lannon graduated from Ohio University in 2010

ATHENS, OH – As manager of Production Operations at ESPN, Dan Lannon ’10 recently led his team to a first during a live sports production, but it’s one you likely didn’t notice watching at home. The Davidson vs. George Mason men’s college basketball game on ESPNU in January 2023 was the first live game ever produced entirely in the Cloud. What that means is all hardware required to produce a live production, which is normally located in a broadcast facility or onsite in a mobile unit, was running completely in a virtual private cloud and the production and operating teams were located in Bristol, CT remotely controlling the systems running in the cloud.

Picture of Control Room during game
Control Room during Davidson vs. George Mason men’s college basketball game

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of an amazing team,” said Lannon. “It was the collaboration and commitment across Production Operations, Media Engineering, Engineering Services and various other teams and people within Disney Technology and at ESPN, as well as the multiple vendors, who have all worked together and made a live game produced entirely in the Cloud a reality.”

But since this is something the viewer at home doesn’t notice, why is it important? It’s literally and figuratively a game-changer in the live sports industry.

“Disney and ESPN are on the cutting edge of the technology and workflows used across the industry and allows us to work on how to create scalable workflows that really impact productions and the company as a whole,” said Lannon. “The use of cloud-based hardware isn’t new to many industries, but for ESPN, we use a lot of proprietary hardware to execute shows. Being able to move hardware into the Cloud and then remotely control it while leveraging public internet to encode feeds from a remote site allows us to scale up and scale down the size of our crew and productions pretty effectively. The thing that sets ESPN and Disney apart is the amount of productions we do. This allows us to expand and contract during peak times.”

Lannon started working at ESPN right after he graduated from Ohio University in 2010 and has worked his way up over the last 13 years into a management role for ESPN’s parent company Disney. It’s a place Lannon doesn’t think he would be without Ohio University and WOUB.

“I grew up in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania and knew I wanted to get into television journalism coming out of high school,” said Lannon. “After my campus visit at Ohio University, the campus was so impressive and felt so collegiate. It was something out of some kind of storybook. But what really set it apart for me was WOUB. The ability to get hands-on experience at a live professional TV station while I was in college truly set Ohio University apart.”

In Ohio University’s Media Arts and Studies Program, Lannon focused on video production and got involved at WOUB right away.

“I came to the first open house at WOUB at the beginning of my freshman year,” said Lannon. “I originally thought I wanted to be on air but ended up loving the production side – running camera, audio and directing.”

Lannon worked on WOUB’s nightly half-hour news program, NewsWatch, and the weekly high school football program Gridiron Glory.

“The skills I learned at WOUB gave me the experience to get internships during college with the Baltimore Orioles and then ESPN,” said Lannon. “In May of my senior year, ESPN offered me a job as an operations technician and a week after graduation, I moved to Connecticut.”

Over his years at ESPN/Disney, Lannon has traveled the country working on programs like SportsCenter and Monday Night Football. Now, leading a team of about 40 people managing remote integration within Production operations, Lannon says the foundation he got in Athens set him up for success.

“Ohio University and WOUB set me apart when I was applying to jobs. I was coming in with baseline experience and full understanding of live production. I had a leg up compared to all the rest of the candidates and could hit the ground running,” said Lannon. “I was comfortable in the control room and in high pressure environments. I was used to problem solving on the road with technology. Because of the experiences at WOUB, the interaction with the professional staff and other students, I came out knowing how to work within a team, how to work within a professional organization and meet deadlines. WOUB provided the complete package. It helped me grow in multiple ways, so I was prepared. I wouldn’t have gotten a foot in the door at ESPN without WOUB.”