Comcast SportsNet Hits the Road for Phils’ First World Series in 15 Years
By Carolyn Braff
To offer the best coverage of the Philadelphia Phillies’ first World Series appearance in 15 years, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia has taken its show on the road. Following the team to
Tampa for Games 1 and 2, Comcast SportsNet put together a live remote show for the first time since 2004, relying on a staff of 14 to help solve some of Tropicana Field’s notorious production challenges.
“This is the first time we’ve done a World Series, so it’s a little bit new in that regard,” explains Scott Facenda, VP of operations for Comcast SportsNet. “When the Eagles were in the Super Bowl in 2004, we went down to Jacksonville and originated a multi-camera show for a full week’s worth of programming, so we have some experience with this, but not in recent times.”
Beginning Oct. 21, the network did its Daily News Live broadcast from
Tampa , using a Midwest Uplink satellite truck as a multi-path vehicle. Rather than outsource a separate production truck, the programming was then switched from Comcast SportsNet’s studios in the
“We’ve been doing dual feeds out of that uplink truck, and on Thursday, we actually did a triple-path feed from the truck,” Facenda says. “We’re using our own Sony HD XDCAMs for newsgathering down there. We have two of those cameras that we’re using for live shots.”
Tropicana Field is not fibered, so Comcast SportsNet had some work to do to hook up the field cameras to the uplink truck in the compound.
“We rented 1,500 feet of fiber from Bexel, and we’ve had to make runs from the truck to the inside of Tropicana Field for a couple of our feeds,” Facenda explains. “That’s a little bit of what we’ve been dealing with. We’ve also been utilizing some fiber that’s in place down in Tropicana from Level 3, and we’re also looking to feed back that way.”
A staff of 10 made the trek from
Tampa and was supported by four more local hires to make sure the shows ran smoothly.
When the Phillies return home to
Park for Games 3 and 4 this weekend, Comcast SportsNet comes with them, and the production becomes a lot simpler.
“We have fiber that connects our control room to
Park, so we can switch all the game cameras and feed audio back and forth right from here,” Facenda says. “We don’t have the rights to do the game, so we can’t be in the bowl the whole time, but we are able to do some things that we might not be able to do if the game was on the road.”
Fox has exclusive transmission rights from the ballpark, beginning up to an hour before the network goes on-air and ending when it leaves the air, but Comcast SportsNet is free to broadcast on either side of that window. With the control room a long fly ball away from the ballpark, the network has plenty of freedom to try new techniques.
“We might be in a couple of different locations from where we normally are when we’re doing a home game,” Facenda says.
Park, he can use either Sony HD XDCAMs or Sony SMPTE-fiber cameras for pre- and post-game interviews, as well as the shows that originate there, such as SportsNite and Daily News Live.
“There are two ways we can gather,” Facenda explains. “We can gather using the SMPTE-fiber cameras and feed directly back to our facility, or we can use the Sony HD XDCAMs and transmit back to our facility using a different mode of fiber.”
To show off the studio sets unveiled in early September, Comcast SportsNet uses 1080i cameras, and all studio content originates in HD. All video is originally gathered on disc in HD, but the remote content from
Tampa is fed back in 16:9 SD and then upconverted in
Philadelphia. All video content is then edited on Harris VelocityHD editors, gets a graphic treatment with a Chyron HyperX to infuse the network’s new graphic look, and is played back in HD.
“Our whole network underwent a graphics change on Oct. 1,” Facenda says. “The look has more movement to it, so that’s done a little more prominently on the highlights. There’s a little more animation involved in the background.”
Once the final out is in the books, Comcast SportsNet receives Fox’s off-air signal from Comcast HD digital cable, and editors send that footage through the same graphic treatment, cutting highlights for immediate use on the network.