Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports North Keep Brewers, Twins Fans Watching

By Ken Kerschbaumer

The challenging economic environment may mean no new production toys for the Fox Sports Wisconsin and Fox Sports North production teams, but that doesn’t mean that fans of the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins won’t have something interesting to watch. That’s especially true during pre- and post-game coverage.

“We’ve really worked hard on creating a lot of interest in the pre- and post-game shows,” says Jeff Byle, executive producer for both Twins and Brewers telecasts. “You have to give content that will keep people around and is unique. In a day and age of highlights and interviews, a recap doesn’t work.”

That’s one reason that, after the game, fans are treated to instructional-type presentations, where on-air talent and analysts discuss and demonstrate an important play that occurred during the game. “There might be an important pickoff play, and we’ll have Bert Blyleven on the mound demonstrating what the pitcher did,” says Byle. “We’ll shoot that live with a couple of handheld cameras on the field and also use the hard cameras.”

The demonstrations also act as a valuable bridge between the time post-field interviews end and the locker room and manager are available for questions. That 10-minute period can often be the death of post-game ratings, but that isn’t the case for Fox Sports Wisconsin and Fox Sports North. From 2007 to 2008, ratings for the Twins were flat , but post-game ratings jumped 32%. And the Brewers’ game ratings saw a 9% gain as the team played well, but post-game coverage was up 23%.

The focus this season is on understanding how ratings can be boosted during the game. “We can have the analysts break down a play in the half inning or have a player interview and tease it so viewers stay through the break,” says Byle. “It’s a fun challenge to see how you can manipulate things.”

And then there is the use of social-networking tools like Twitter. “Once we have a planning meeting and know what content will be in each show, we’ll send messages out with Twitter, telling people to tune in for the pre-game,” says Byle. “We’ll also send out tweets during the game with scoring updates.”

Thinking differently and using new tools to build better connections between partners and advertisers is a key part of revenue generation and can result in additional production tools, such as an xMo super-slow-motion system.

“We have these new technologies,” says Byle, “and we need to use them as a way to create new opportunities.”

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