Fox Sports Looks To ‘Speed Up’ Baseball Across Its 15 Regionals
At a time when baseball production is investing in more slow-motion cameras and replay technology — for both official and entertainment purposes — Fox Sports is taking a bit of an alternative approach to covering Major League Baseball this season.
“We are asking our teams to speed up their broadcasts,” says Michael Connelly, SVP/executive producer, Fox Sports Networks, which owns the regional rights to half the league’s teams. “We want to show how fast this game is, so we’re pushing all of our [production] teams to show lots of real-time and nat-sound replays.”
Those replays will be supported technologically by the Grass Valley K2 Dyno replay system, which is on every Fox Sports regional truck this season — in fact, many of them have two systems. It allows both real-time and slow-motion replays in high resolution.
“We want to see how fast the umpires are watching the action, too,” says Connelly. “I think we take that for granted. It’s a mix of both, though. I think, as broadcasters, we don’t show how fast sports are. We’re so focused on going slow. I don’t want our guys to forget to show how fast the game is.”
Big production upgrades this season include the introduction of Mobile TV Group’s new 37HDX truck for Fox Sports’ Detroit Tigers telecasts.
Fox Sports Regional Networks’ MLB telecasts typically range from 14 to 18 cameras, with the exception of Arizona, where tech-happy director Mitch Riggin bolstered his camera complement to more than 20 with POV and robotic cameras. A Phantom X-Mo will be rotated around all the regionals throughout the season.
Also, in-stadium studio sets have been added in Kansas City, Cleveland, and Minnesota, and the set in San Diego has been moved from outside the stadium to inside.
“Every broadcast should have [onsite] pre- and post-game coverage,” says Connelly. “Essentially, these ballparks are an elaborate studio, and we want to capture the essence of the game. We want you, the viewer, to feel like you are there.”
Production and operations also will see greater integration between parent Fox Sports and Fox Sports 1 outfits and the regional networks as well. As many as 24 Fox Sports and Fox Sports 1 Game of the Week telecasts will be produced by a regional broadcast team.
Opening-Day Ratings Bonanza
Opening Day was kind to many baseball broadcasters across the country, and Fox Sports was no different: the defending American League champion Royals logged a massive 11.7 HH rating (an 89% increase over the 2014 home opener), the new-look Padres gave Fox Sports San Diego its highest-rated game ever, with a 5.4 household rating (34% higher than the 2014 home opener); Fox Sports Ohio netted an 18.63 for the Reds’ opener; and Fox Sports Detroit scored a 13.8 and was the No. 2-rated program of the entire day in Detroit, behind only the NCAA Championship Game.