Fox Sports Taps Its Regional-Network Pros for MLB Coverage

Major League Baseball’s 2015 season is under way, and, this weekend, Fox Sports will begin an expanded slate of primetime and daytime coverage with a new production philosophy that draws on the experience of the production professionals who work for the Fox regional networks.

“We’re going to work more closely with the regionals and take advantage of their resources,” says Francisco Contreras, director of field operations, Fox Sports. “In the past, we would bring in our own gear, but now, when you walk into a regional truck, it will have things like super slo-mo, RF cameras, and even an [Inertia Unlimited] X-Mo and robos. So this makes it easier for all of us.”

The move reflects the growth of the regional networks. A little more than five years ago, it was possible to find regional networks that were not all-HD, and few regional productions had the complement of replay, graphics, and analysis tools found on a national show. But viewers’ insatiable demand for a better viewing experience led regional networks to increase the technical quality of their shows. The result means that not only more tools but also more-experienced production personnel will be available to Fox Sports.

“We’re going to try to use whatever crews [there are] in a lot of the markets. We will still bring in some of our own people and talent, but we want to use whoever they have both above and below the line, including talent,” says Contreras. The backhaul systems used by the regionals will also be used to help get the games to Fox Sports’ Los Angeles facility and, in turn, out to viewers.

There will still be plenty of games for which Fox Sports will have to tap into last year’s workflows. For example, it doesn’t have a regional network in the Boston, Chicago, Washington, and Baltimore markets. And primetime games, which this year are expanded beyond All-Star Game Weekend, will offer a chance to bring in some additional tools.

“During the regular season, we will also be testing out some new equipment for the All-Star Game [and postseason],” adds Contreras. “When we get to the All-Star Game, we want to try out another Dirtcam at second base, so we will test that in Cincinnati to see if it works.”

Fox Sports will have a busy next couple of months. Its schedule comprises not only are the typical MLB and NASCAR staples but the addition of the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, U.S. Open golf championship in Chamber’s Bay, WA, and MLS matches. All those moving parts mean that working with the regional assets makes sense financially and provides zero risk to the quality of the production.

“We’re real excited to work with the regionals,” says Contreras, “Everyone has been great.”

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