D-backs Fans Enjoy Huge Leap in Access, HD Coverage on Fox Sports Arizona

By Carolyn Braff

With a swimming pool in the stadium, increased team access, and 70% more games broadcast in high definition than last year, 2009 is the year for Arizona Diamondbacks fans to get spoiled. Fox Sports Arizona, broadcast home of the Diamondbacks, is increasing its HD production from 84 games in 2008 to 141 in 2009, adding more access and interactivity to turn fans from viewers into participants.

“All in, we have more than 1,100 hours of programming dedicated to the Diamondbacks this season,” says Mike Roth, executive producer for Fox Sports Arizona. “That includes games, pre-game, post-game, replays, original programming — 1,100 is a pretty big number. In 2006, we did 70 games, and now we’re up to 150, and we’ve really upped the original-programming commitment. It’s big-league baseball, and we like to think we do it big league.”

Increasing the number of HD games from 84 to 141 reflects a commitment on the part of the network to bring fans the best possible broadcast experience. Two monthly shows — The Eric Byrnes Show and The 10th Inning — will also be produced in high definition, as will pre- and post-game shows, with the exception of a handful of road games for which the post-game show is produced off-site.

On-site pre- and post-game shows will once again be produced from a permanently installed set in right-center field, part of the Miller Light Diamond Club. Fox Sports Arizona built the set prior to the 2008 season.

A new region-wide graphics package will spruce up the look of Diamondbacks baseball on Fox Sports Arizona, as will Game Flow, a new technology to integrate the graphics with the FoxBox.

“Game Flow makes it a lot easier to integrate promotions and sales elements from the FoxBox with our normal graphic look,” Roth says. “That’s brand new for this season, and Fox is the first network to use it.”

Also changing the on-air graphic look is a new relationship with Phizzle, a company that enables Fox Sports Arizona to do real-time polls and debates and get real-time feedback from fans via texting.

“We’re able to now truly engage the viewer in real time, and that’s what people expect,” Roth says. “We live in a society where everything is now. We’ve done e-mails to the booth before, but the software that Phizzle provides allows you to put a poll question up and, as people text their answers, the results change in real time on the air. We’re really excited to allow fans to be participants instead of viewers.”

This week, Roth says, if the Diamondbacks are winning in the late innings, Fox Sports Arizona will use the Phizzle software to ask fans whom they want to be interviewed after the game.

In addition to bringing fans more interactivity, Fox Sports Arizona is focusing this season on bringing them greater access. Manager Bob Melvin will be interviewed on-air from the dugout once every home stand; three of the five starting pitchers have agreed to talk to the network live as they come out of games (provided the team is tied or leading); and April 21 will feature an entire broadcast from the iconic swimming pool at Chase Field.

“Our mantra is to educate and entertain,” Roth says. “If you don’t do both in everything you’re doing, then you’ve missed the boat. Our producers, talent, and directors have all embraced that, and I think that’s something that we do a great job of.”

Mobile TV Group supports all of Fox Sports Arizona’s productions, and an arsenal of 10 cameras, including a robotic and two lockdown HD POV bullpen units, ensures that fans at home get to experience all the access that Fox Sports Arizona has granted for this season.

“We came out of the gate already in midseason form,” Roth says of his production crew. “I was really proud of this group, and now our relationship with the Diamondbacks is so good that the access we’re going to be able to add is huge for people at home. I would put our show up against any show in baseball.”

SVG is checking in with each regional sports networks to detail the news and expectations as the 2009 baseball season gets under way. For the complete SVG 30 In 30 Index, click here.

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