For Fox Sports Detroit, Tigers Broadcasts Are Bigger Than Baseball

By Carolyn Braff

Perhaps no city is feeling the economic downturn more than Detroit, but, for Fox Sports Detroit, the current economy makes the job of a regional sports network (RSN) all the more important.

“The Detroit area has been hit really hard by the economic challenges,” says John Tuohey, executive producer for Fox Sports Detroit. “This year more than any year I can remember, the anticipation for baseball is huge, not just for the Tigers but for how they help the community to bond together to have a great time.”

Since the Tigers reached the World Series in 2006, Detroit fans have breathed plenty of life into Comerica Park, turning the now nine-year-old ballpark into a true destination spot.

“With the winter being so harsh and our football team being so poor, the anticipation for baseball is here, especially because baseball at Comerica is tremendously affordable,” Tuohey explains. “If we’re doing a good job on television, we’re showcasing the ballpark and trying to tell people what a great time it is to come down to Comerica and watch the team.”

Tuohey’s team will have even more opportunities to showcase the ballpark on television this season. Fox Sports Detroit has increased the number of game broadcasts from 150 last season to 156 this year, including 115 games in high-definition (up from 103 in 2008). From just 60 games broadcast in HD in 2007, Fox Sports Detroit network has nearly doubled its HD output over the past two seasons.

Graphically, the RSN is incorporating a new look with some of last year’s enhancements. The X-mo replay system, which Tuohey describes as a tremendous visual and teaching tool, returns for its second full season. A Chyron Duet will anchor an entirely new graphics look, featuring a new Fox Box and new animations.

“It’s a very powerful, excellent graphics system that we’re debuting,” Tuohey says.

The look will enhance a new pre- and post-game set, which moves this year from a mid-concourse location in Comerica Park’s lower deck to the newly remodeled Fox Sports Detroit Brushfire Grill.

“It’s an area of the ballpark where there’s a picnic area and a Ferris wheel,” Tuohey says of the new space. “This is an area built just for us and should look great on television. We had a new set designed, and we will be hosting all of our pre- and post-game shows from there.”

With help from mobile provider The Mobile Group, Fox Sports Detroit uses seven cameras for a typical home-game production. However, because the RSN tends to share cameras with the visiting team, for any given broadcast, viewers can be treated to what is effectively a 10-camera show.

“This is the 10th full year that Comerica is open, and they just did a great job in laying out the building for camera positions and sightlines,” Tuohey says. “While we’ve moved a robotic camera around to different locations from time to time, the building itself was just a terrific setup for us for television.”

Beginning this weekend, all eyes in the sporting world will be on Detroit as the city hosts the NCAA Final Four, and Tuohey is confident that such attention will carry over into the baseball season.

“With the Final Four being here this week and Michigan State getting in, there’s a lot of buzz and excitement around Detroit, and I think that will flow very naturally into Opening Day,” he says. “Sports are big here, and the Tigers really help the community to bond together. People can’t for the weather to break and baseball to get started.”

Day is less than a month away, and SVG is counting down to the first pitch with
a look at the regional sports networks responsible for producing games for all
30 Major League Baseball teams. SVG is stopping in with each RSN to detailing
the news and expectations leading up to the 2009 baseball season one conference
at a time. For the complete SVG 30 In 30 Index, click here.

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