Rainbow Network Is Home Away From Home for Sports Networks
By Ken Kerschbaumer
When the World Baseball Classic recently ended and allowed MLB players to get back to the business of spring training it also MLB International and production personnel to end a multi-month residency at Rainbow Network.
For Rainbow Broadcasting & Technology, which operates out of the Rainbow Network facility, it signaled a return to normalcy helping long-time clients like Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), MSG Network, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Florida, Comcast New England, and more than 25 other channels.
“We support live channels and movie services,” says Tom Greco, Rainbow Network, vice president. “All live channels have a dedicated control room for the primary feed and overflow areas in additional control rooms.”
The 65,000 sq. ft. facility opened in 2000 and was the first complete HD facility in the industry. “We’ve been in this business since the early 80s and we know sports and how competitive the industry is,” says Greco. “Each of the channels has its own associate director so if there is an issue with, say, Comcast Bay Area, there is a single point of contact. The associate director is the go-between between the facility and client.”
The World Baseball Classic event was a natural fit for Rainbow because PVI, provided dynamic virtual ad insertions within the WBC feeds heading out to viewers. Long Island-based Cablevision owns Rainbow Network and also a 28% stake in PVI.
During the WBC Feeds with different virtual scoreboards were transmitted to MLB Network in Secaucus, NJ, Rogers Sportsnet in Toronto, Televisa in Mexico City and ESPN in Bristol, CT, and beyond. Virtually inserted advertisements appeared to international viewers in real time on the backstop behind home plate. The feeds were operated simultaneously out of Rainbow control rooms, delivering targeted market-specific ads from PVI’s unique multi-backend technology, to viewers in different geographic locations, offering a new revenue-generating opportunity for Major League Baseball.
“Part of the advantage for PVI is they don’t need to be at the venue to insert the graphics,” says Greco. “Our facility was a good fit to receive signals from the venues and insert the graphics.”
Russell Gabay, VP and executive producer, Major League Baseball International Broadcasting, called Rainbow Network’s facility home for a month during the WBC. “When it was determined we would need a place to monitor all of the feeds, house the equipment and have ample working space along with our partners at PVI, it made sense to utilize Rainbow Network Communications Center because of its unique capabilities and company synergy,” he says.
What’s next for Greco and Rainbow? Continuing to make existing clients happy while keeping an eye on future needs. “We do have expansion capabilities and try to accommodate whatever we can and go in a different direction,” adds Greco.