MLB on Fox Goes Under the Lights

Fox Sports’ 17th season of Saturday Game of the Week opens this weekend, leading off a schedule highlighted by eight consecutive primetime matchups and an expanded pregame show.

Beginning on May 19, Fox Sports will showcase every U.S.-based team under the lights at least twice, including five interleague contests played over four nights. Fox Sports’ Saturday Game of the Week primetime schedule will culminate with a Yankees-Red Sox showdown at Fenway on July 7, leading into the All-Star Game on July 10.

“We’re pleased that we were able work with our partners at Major League Baseball to develop our most extensive primetime schedule yet,” says Fox Sports Co-President/COO Eric Shanks. “Our hope is to increase viewership and, by featuring so many teams, create additional exposure for the game’s many stars so they become more familiar to a broader fan base.”

The network plans to enhance the production complement for its primetime broadcasts, adding an Inertia Unlimited X-Mo or ultra-slo-mo, super-slow-motion, and robotic mid-home camera to the coverage.

Fox Sports, MLB Network Team Up on Pregame Show
This season, Fox Sports Media Group will join forces with MLB Network to produce an extended weekly pregame show out of MLB Network’s Studio 3 in Secaucus, NJ. Since MLB Network’s launch in 2009, the two have shared below-the-line resources and video, as well as numerous on-air personalities, including Matt Vasgersian, who will host the revamped pregame show.

“[MLB Network] will be doing our game breaks and any sort of transitional elements that we need out of Secaucus,” says Mike Davies, VP, field operations, Fox Sports. “It gives [us] more tools to play with, certainly, [and] for the most part, it’s going to allow us to wield the excellent facility that they have there in Secaucus.”

The new “tools” at Fox Sports’ disposal include MLB Network’s Emmy-nominated Ballpark Cam system, audio and video content, and MLB Network analysts Harold Reynolds, Mitch Williams, Eric Byrnes, and Kevin Millar.

“It all starts with the relationship with MLB Network,” says Shanks. “We did a rehearsal this past weekend, and it’s going to be great. We’re excited about expanding the great relationship we’ve had with MLB Network for a long time. Our goal is to keep people updated around the league as we have in the past.”

The new pregame show, which debuts on April 7, will run 30 minutes most weeks, with the exception of Fox’s eight consecutive primetime dates, when the pregame show will be 15 minutes long beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

In the Field and on the Truck
Fox Sports will deploy seven cameras — six hard and one handheld — for every day game on the slate, upping the complement to nine for primetime games. For each game, the network will move into the truck used for the home team’s Friday broadcast. If the truck is equipped with an X-Mo or ultra-slo-mo, the director has the option of assigning a camera operator to the slow-motion camera.

“Every once in a while, if you get to a place where either the truck isn’t capable of doing the show or, in some of these markets, like Philadelphia or Cleveland, [where] they already have facilities that they produce the games out of,” explains Davies, “we just do ‘set, shoot, strikes’ on the trucks.”

Once again, Fox Sports will have wireless microphones that players can opt to wear; umpire mics will also be used, though only in replay situations.

All Star-Bound and Beyond
In addition to 24 weeks of regular-season coverage, Fox Sports will broadcast the 83rd MLB All-Star Game from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO, the National League Championship Series, and the 108th World Series.

“Our first foray into real large-format baseball is the All-Star Game in Kansas City,” says Davies. “We’re actually starting meetings for that, [and we’re] headed out there next week for a survey. With the All-Star Game, we use a lot of the same tools and tricks that we have for postseasons, so that’s always a good starting point for some of the things that we’re going to do for postseason baseball.”

MLB on Fox’s Opening Day schedule begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday April 7, featuring the last two World Series Champions. The Cardinals head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers in an NLCS rematch, and the San Francisco Giants go on the road against NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

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