MLS 2022 Preview: Fox Sports Covers Matches from the Air With Live Helicopter, Debuts New Graphics Package

Remote workflows will continue from The Vault

Another season of Major League Soccer kicks off this weekend, and there’s a lot of storylines: the earliest start to the regular season schedule in the history of the league, the introduction of a new club in Charlotte FC, the opening of Nashville SC’s new stadium in May, and how New York City FC can defend their first-ever title. On the broadcast front, Fox Sports will be highlighting 34 games in their 27th season with live helicopter coverage and a new graphics package.

“Capturing the passion and atmosphere surrounding every MLS match and stadium continues to be a hallmark of Fox Sports’ coverage,” says Zac Kenworthy, senior coordinating producer, Fox Sports. “We are planning on pushing the limits of our aerial coverage even further as well as launch a new MLS animation package this season.”

The Production Standouts: Live Helicopter, New Graphics Animations Reserve Top Billing

Debuted last season, live aerial coverage of the pitch from a helicopter will once again make its mark this year. Fans will experience this point of view on all matches aired on Fox and other select broadcasts. From an operations perspective, a helicopter is able to elevate the viewer out of the stadium and show unique vistas of the gameday atmosphere that a stationary camera on the ground can’t do.

“The beauty of a helicopter versus other aerial options is the extent to which a chopper can cover game action,” says Kenworthy. “Not only do you get the great sweeping shots of stadiums, fan arrivals, and the atmosphere [before the match], but the vendors know that our goal is to utilize their camera for game coverage as well. This eye-in-the-sky view also provides a special addition to the broadcast for the tactically driven viewer.

Fox Sports will air 34 regular season games on FOX and FS1.

In addition, the network will be showcasing a new graphics package. This comes after a recent revamp of their NASCAR graphics that was first seen at last weekend’s Daytona 500.

“The graphics will be sharper, bolder, and cleaner,” adds Kenworthy. “We feel like viewers at home will instantly recognize the change, but it won’t feel foreign to the league or a traditional MLS on Fox broadcast.”

Along with the helicopter and graphics, any given match will feature seven cameras. Depending on the venue, these will all be hard cameras or six hard cameras and a handheld. Kenworthy and company are also aiming to bolster their shoulder programming and live coverage with an increased onsite studio presence.

Reliance on Remote Workflows: Offsite Resources Continue from The Vault in Los Angeles

A production technique that has become more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is remote production. While the virus is allowing the influx of more onsite personnel, Fox Sports will continue to leverage offsite locations to augment their MLS broadcasts. The goal is to eventually hit a point where the production environment turns into a hybrid model. In a move that made last year’s shows possible, the Vault in Los Angeles will be at the core of their remote efforts.

“We had tremendous success last season with the Vault, which can be patched to any of our MLS production trucks,” continues Kenworthy. “The Vault allows for our strongest EVS, FOX Box, and Vizrt operators to be utilized on any of our productions week to week. This workflow services the viewer and ensures the most experienced production personnel are working on MLS broadcasts throughout the season.”

Notable Matchups: Charlotte FC’s First Home Game, “El Tráfico” Headline Season Slate

With 34 total games (27 on FS1 and seven on FOX), Fox Sports will be at the heart of the MLS regular season. A mix of old and new teams will be featured in the schedule, and the action will get going quickly right out of the gate.

“We’ve worked closely with the league on putting together an exciting and balanced schedule,” says Kenworthy. “We’re kicking things off with a bang with six matches in the first three weeks of the new season across FOX and FS1.”

Some noteworthy contest of the 2022 campaign include two games on Opening Weekend with the 2021 Supporters Shield-winning New England Revolution vs. Western Conference winners Portland Timbers on Saturday, Feb. 26  and Atlanta United vs. Sporting KC on Sunday, Feb. 27, a full onsite presence for Charlotte FC’s inaugural home match vs. LA Galaxy on Saturday, March 5, a West Coast bout between the Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy on Saturday, March 12, the crosstown rivalry in Los Angeles named “El Tráfico” between LA Galaxy and LAFC on Saturday, April 9, and Nashville SC’s fourth home game at their new stadium vs. Atlanta United on Saturday, May 21. In the summer from July 9 through July 17, there will be four matches in eight days as part of Heineken Rivalry Week including Seattle vs. Portland, Charlotte vs. Nashville, LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes, and Columbus Crew vs. FC Cincinnati. Additional MLS Cup Playoff matches will be added to Fox Sports’ postseason schedule following Decision Day on Sunday, Oct. 9. Every match aired on FOX and FS1 will also be shown in Spanish on FOX Deportes and be available for live stream via and the FOX Sports app.

Live helicopter coverage, like this shot from LAFC vs. LA Galaxy on Aug. 28, 2021, will be increased this season.

As for on-air talent, the network’s roster of personalities will dissect the games from multiple angles. Play-by-play announcer John Strong and match analyst Stu Holden will return to form the lead broadcast booth as Play-by-play annoncer JP Dellacamera and match analyst Keith Costigan will be another team. Host Rob Stone will be joined by former United States National Team stars Alexi Lalas, Maurice Edu, and Cobi Jones and former England defender Warren Barton as analysts for the studio show. Dr. Joe Machnik will serve as the network’s rules analyst to round out the team. On FOX Deportes, the duo of John Laguna and Rodolfo Landeros will be alongside former Mexican National Team members Claudio Suárez, Mariano Trujillo, and Martín “El Pulpo” Zúñiga. 2015 MLS Cup champion Rodney Wallace is the newest addition as an analyst while announcers Jorge Perez Navarro and Alejandro Luna will also contribute to the network’s coverage this season.

“We have a strong roster of talented analysts and incredibly experienced broadcasters,” continues Kenworthy. “We always want to give them a platform to discuss not only the match at hand, but also the league in general.”

Roads Lead to Qatar: A Proper Buildup for the FIFA Men’s World Cup in November

All of these technologies and workflows will culminate in a gargantuan month of soccer for Fox with the MLS Cup Final on Saturday, Nov. 5 and the start of the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar on Monday, Nov. 21. These two massive events anchor the network’s coverage, but other fixtures will require the focus of both operations and production teams, including the United States Men’s National Team World Cup Qualifier vs. Panama on Sunday, March 27, the FIFA Men’s World Cup Draw on Friday, April 1, and the beginning of the UEFA Nations League in June.

“We may never see a schedule like this again on the global soccer calendar,” says Kenworthy. “The excitement is palpable for everyone here at Fox Sports, and it will be the same for the viewers at home.”

MLS on Fox kickoffs this weekend with two games: Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 26 and Atlanta United vs. Sporting KC on FS1 at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27.

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