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MLB Local Media Hits Its Stride in Year 2 With Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies Broadcasts

02/04/2024

MLB Local Media Hits Its Stride in Year 2 With Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies Broadcasts Tech highlights include WireCam, Ump Cam, RF gimbal system, and STATS Insights graphics By Jason Dachman, Editorial Director, U.S.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024 - 3:13 pm

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After taking over San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks broadcasts on the fly in the middle of last season, MLB will also be producing and distributing Colorado Rockies games this season. With last season under its belt, the league's Local Media team is looking to level-up broadcasts for all three teams with a full arsenal of production tools and technological innovations.

The key to the 2024 season has been the ability to plan, says Doug Johnson, SVP/executive producer, local media, MLB. Last year was more about getting our feet under us and ensuring these games were on the air and at a high production level. Now, with a full offseason to prepare, we were able to add things and make changes to the productions where appropriate. [We're] also continuing to build great relationships with the clubs as a partner in all of these broadcasts.

At Colorado Rockies front bench in Arizona for opening series: Producer Alison Vigil (left) and Director Erica Ferrero

Tech Touches: WireCam, Ump Cam, RF Gimbal System DEFY Wire Cam at Chase Field

MLB Local Media has partnered with DEFY Products to add a WireCam system to Petco Park in San Diego, Chase Field in Phoenix, and Coors Field in Denver. At Chase Field and Coors Field, the system runs up and down the third-base line; at Petco, it starts on the first-base line.

We experimented with the WireCam last year and quickly realized what a game-changer it was for our shows, says Johnson. With its versatility, it was like adding five cameras to the show.

MLB Local Media is also working closely with MLB SVP, Broadcasting, Ryan Zander and the broadcasting department to implement Ump Cam in some broadcasts. The Ump Cam made its local-broadcast debut last year with the Diamondbacks, and Johnson hopes to increase its deployment across all three teams' games this year.

It was a huge success, and fans loved it, he says. We are always striving to show the speed and movement of these amazing pitchers, and this look shows you both. The other thing I like is, it replicates the view most kids are used to when they play MLB videogames.

Closeup of WireCam at Chase Field

For home games, all three teams' productions will deploy an enhanced version of the wireless RF DJI Ronin gimbal camera system that debuted last season on Diamondbacks and Padres broadcasts.

We believe this package gives us the same great on-air look as last season with a more intuitive and flexible operating system, says Kendall Burgess, VP, operations, MLB Local Media. Based on the lessons we learned last year and with the engineering guidance of MTVG, we have upgraded several of our camera systems this season.

Working with facilities provider Mobile TV Group and NEP's Fletcher Sports division, Burgess and her team have also upgraded several home-park robotic and PTZ cameras for this season.

All About Access: In-Game Interviews Bring Fans Closer to the Action Like many national and regional broadcasters these days, MLB Local Media is making a concerted effort to work with all three clubs to enhance player access during the game broadcast.

Down-the-wire look of DEFY WireCam at Chase Field

MLB Local Media is working with MTVG to deploy a customized player-mic and IFB package this season. The highlight of the gear is a Q5X PlayerMic that debuted during Spring Training games and will be incorporated throughout the season for all three teams.

Fans crave these kinds of production elements, says Johnson. With increased access, you give more exposure to these great athletes through the biggest megaphone, which is the game broadcast.

For example, Johnson and company are working with the clubs to arrange in-game interviews with the starting pitcher after a good start. It just makes way more sense, he says, to celebrate that start with the pitcher during the highly rated game broadcast versus making fans wait for a postgame show to hear from him. All three of our clubs have been great to work with, and I am looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year.

Going Deeper With Data: STAT Insights' and Hot Corner' Graphics; Plus Umps in the Booth Besides its stats provider Sportradar, MLB has partnered with Stats Perform on its STATS Insights platform. All three clubs will have a dedicated Stats Perform statistician on a Slack channel providing deeper statistical insights to the announce booth and the truck. Instead of depending on stats provided before the game, says Johnson, we are able to expound on in-game storylines as they happen in real time.

All three teams' broadcasts also feature new specialty graphics leveraging the STATS Insights platform dubbed the Hot Corner. The graphic, which runs directly off the overall Vizrt graphics systems, slides onto the screen with a chime sound and displays deep statistics and information during the live broadcast. The direction for the Hot Corner is, it is only high-end stats and interesting information when it goes in, says Johnson. When viewers hear that chime, there is a real payoff.

To further provide deeper insights to viewers, Padres broadcasts will offer a new twist with the addition of former MLB Umpire Mike Winters as a rules expert in the booth on selected games. With all the new and exciting changes to the game, says Johnson, it will be great to get an umpire's perspective/analysis live on the air. Based on how this goes, we will look to implement this in all our regions.

New Year, New Look: MLB Network, Local Production Teams Pitch In The overall on-air l
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/04/02/mlb-local-media-hits-its-stride...
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