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London Games Give MLB Network a Chance to Expand Game, Work Closely with BBC

06/06/2024

London Games Give MLB Network a Chance to Expand Game, Work Closely with BBC By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Thursday, June 6, 2024 - 9:00 am

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London is calling for Major League Baseball this weekend as the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets will play two games at London Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. Both Fox Sports and ESPN will be handling core production duties, but MLB Network is on-site to make sure the world feed goes off without a hitch for rights holders like the BBC and TNT Sports (the UK version, that is).

Credit to MLB/Mary DeCicco

TNT plans to have an hour-long pregame show as well as announcers on-site and MLB will support those efforts as well as the BBC's broadcasts of both games.

This is year two with the BBC which is really exciting because they're great to work with, says Samantha Calastro, MLB Network's International operations manager. It's a really exciting way to bring baseball to the UK and we're also getting the opportunity to again stream the BBC game to Trafalgar Square for a watch party. It was a huge success last year and we're really excited to do that again this year.

MLB Network will also help stream all the press conferences live as well as create a number of special shows, including MLB Central, MLB Network's morning show, which will be live on Thursday, June 6 from a Philadelphia-themed dive bar in London's posh Fitzrovia neighborhood called Passyunk Avenue.

Robert Flores, Mark DeRosa, Lauren Shehadi and Adam Wainwright will co-host the show from bar stools and LiveU will be used to transmit three camera signals back to the compound at London Stadium.

We've been successful with LiveU in doing something we otherwise wouldn't be able to do, says Ben Friedfeld, MLB Network, VP, content logistics and field production. Mark actually did a bus tour as a tour guide in London last year, and we're set up for a guest heavy show with former players like Mike Piazza, Chase Utley, and Mookie Wilson.

On Friday, MLB Network's coverage zeroes in on workout day as MLB Central will broadcast live from London Stadium.

That is always awesome as players give us an experience we usually don't get during the regular season, says Friedfeld. The players are excited to be there and be part of the atmosphere. Plus, you never know what influencers or special guests will stop by. One year we had Reggie Jackson and Spike Lee join us.

The MLB weekend coverage includes a Twitter/X show on Saturday and then MLB Tonight coverage, which just won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Daily Studio Show last month. Running point alongside Friedfeld in London with the scheduling of guests is Adam Helfgott, MLB Network, Supervising Producer, Field Production. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and award-winning actor and Mets fan Matthew Broderick are scheduled to join Saturday's program.

It should be an exciting weekend as these international events are something we look forward to every year, adds Friedfeld.

From a technical standpoint, Zaac Christopher, MLB Network, senior remote technical manager, says NEP is once again providing the entire infrastructure for the entire compound which is comprised of 14 trucks. MLBN, Fox, TNT are all on-site as well as Hawkeye which is supporting replay review needs. NEP's TOC plays a big part in ensuring all feeds can be shared as needed and it also handles standards conversion from 1080p 59.94 to 1080i 50 for the BBC.

For our coverage, we are taking an enhanced world feed from Fox as our other tech manager, Jason Lamanna, has worked closely with Fox to make sure we have the correct clean feed and the cameras that we need, adds Christopher. MLB will have about 23 feeds from Fox as well as a press camera and a couple of iso cameras.

We basically build our show on top of that infrastructure and enough can't be said about the work NEP is doing to make sure that you every rights holder and every transmission path are correct.

Chris Pfeiffer, MLB Network, VP, Live Events, says the MLB/BBC relationship extended beyond the London Games last year to include a couple of Postseason games as well as a World Series game.

They're a good group, it's been a great relationship between us, and they have a fun dynamic between their announcers, he adds.

We're bringing back Melanie Newman and then Ryan Rowland- Smith and Felix White who is a character and so interested in the game of baseball. He helps get the audience closer to the game.

Since the first London game in 2019, Calastro and the others have seen the evolution of baseball's popularity in the UK.

You're meeting more and more people who are baseball fans here, says Calastro. They might not have a favorite team yet, but they're learning about this great game, and that makes this so much more special.

MLBN/International Support

Zaac Christopher, Sr. Remote Technical Manager

Jason LaManna, Technical Manager

Samantha Calastro, International Operations Manager

Megan Cain, Production Manager

BBC Game Broadcast

Announcer, Melanie Newman

Announcer, Ryan Rowland-Smith

Announcer, Felix White

Game Director, Dan Gentile

Game Producer, Keith Costas

Tape Producer, Jacob Catalano

TD, Jeff Hendrick

VP, Live Events, Chris Pfeiffer (off-site)

MLB London Office: Alex Herron, Ben Ladkin

Sponsorship Coverage

Sr. Dir. League Projects, Kristen Wendland

MLB Network Studio / Sponsorship Coverage support by Boardwalk Production Inc.

NEP Main Support Contact: Kevin Orwin
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/06/06/london-games-give-mlb-network-a...
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