Turner Sports Adds Angles, Emotions to MLB Playoff Coverage

Turner Sports steps up to the plate this week for its fourth year of postseason baseball coverage, and executive producer Jeff Behnke has a clear vision of what that coverage will look like and how technology fits into each broadcast.

“We have a seminar every year, and there are a few things that we always talk about,” Behnke explains. “We talk about letting the emotions on the field happen on their own. We want to let the game on the field take place and without trying to create anything. That is exactly what all four of our announce teams do. Letting the game come to us is very natural for us.”

As each divisional series moves forward, Behnke says, the network’s viewership grows, so it is imperative that the announcers keep viewers up to date on not only who the players on the field are but where they came from.

“There are so many new players that have not been in the postseason before, and so many players that have not been here in a long time, so I think it’s our job to make sure that, as our viewership grows, we let people know who these players are, and what their stories are from the regular season,” Behnke says. “And finally, we work to make sure that we’re accurate in everything that we do.”

Three Ways for 3D Graphics
Technological enhancements help Behnke’s team assure some of that accuracy, and this year’s playoff broadcasts will include a number of new and improved gadgets. For HD viewers, the Pitch Trax system that viewers are accustomed to seeing on regular-season TBS Sunday games will have a new flavor. The enhanced PITCHf/x System tracks every pitch from the time it leaves the pitcher’s hand until it crosses home plate, calculating speed, break, location, and trajectory, among other elements.

“It’s going to have a 3D look, where we’ll be able to have three different views of the pitch,” Behnke explains. “In one view, you can see the pitch coming at you, another is an overhead angle that allows you to see pitches coming over the plate, and we also have a side angle where pitches come across the plate.”

Those three distinct viewing angles will be available periodically throughout each game, for HD viewers only.

“In this videogame world that we live in, being able to have a visual of where the balls are going across the plate and having three different ways to potentially see that is a nice enhancement for the viewers,” Behnke adds.

In Person and Online
On the studio side, Turner Sports will be adding an Atlanta-based pre-game show before every game, as well as a post-game show. Those studio shows will benefit from a batting cage and pitching machine, which hosts Cal Ripken, Dennis Eckersley, and David Wells will use for live demonstrations of hitting techniques and pitching strategies and, as Behnke says, to have some fun.

During the American League Championship Series, Turner Sports will add a Cablecam to its remote coverage and take its studio show on the road as well.

Online, the TBS Hot Corner on MLB.com will be back for this year, offering fans access to on-demand video highlights from all divisional series and the ALCS, as well as player and coach interviews, exclusive segments from the TBS studio, and previews of upcoming matchups. Turner Sports will also host live chats with analysts Eckersley, Ripken, and Wells, along with Ron Darling and John Smoltz, throughout the postseason on MLB.com. TBS broadcasters will also use Twitter (twitter.com/tbshotcorner) and Facebook to provide additional commentary and analysis, behind-the-scenes photos, and other exclusive online content throughout the playoffs.

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