Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Reflects on Championship Season
Heading into a Thanksgiving having experienced good fortune can make the holiday more special than usual. For the team at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, an extra toast by all staffers, no doubt, will be given to the San Francisco Giants, who afforded the network a chance to produce a World Series victory parade, see the value in increasing their on-site pre- and post-game coverage, and see firsthand the growing importance of regional sports networks.
“In 2002, we were on the outside looking in at parade-coverage plans,” says Ted D. Griggs, VP/GM for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. “But, eight years later, we are not only part of that process but the centerpiece. We initiated discussions with the local stations and lead the way with pre- and post-parade coverage. It was refreshing to be in a different position.”
He credits Comcast with making the network so vital to the local community. When the San Francisco Giants made the World Series, the network was told to embrace the opportunity without concern for budget.
“They told us this is our time and make it memorable,” says Griggs. “And Comcast believes in all of this shoulder programming, not only from a brand standpoint but to build it up so that you can eventually make a profit on it.”
The ultimate in shoulder programming is pre- and post-game coverage. When the Giants fought back into the pennant race in September, the network decided to produce more and more pre- and post-game coverage from outside the stadium in Willie Mays plaza.
“It was wild, with people lining up with signs, screaming, yelling, and even throwing articles of clothing,” says Griggs. “It put us on the map as something that is part of the Giants experience.”
While the excitement at the ballpark gave the network an effective branding opportunity, it also translated into solid ratings, with post-game numbers reaching the 2.5-3 rating level.
“That was a dream come true,” says Griggs. “And it became a destination for fans at the game. I really look at the expense as more marketing than production.”
According to David Koppett, executive producer, live events, for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the on-site broadcasts took advantage of a fiber connect between the stadium and Bay Area headquarters. The fiber path could handle two feeds, so signals were pumped back from a Sprinter truck with three cameras used for the production. Interviews from inside the ballpark could also be sent back over the pipe.
As for the parade and victory ceremony, Koppett says it was the most complex show the network has ever done. Eight HD cameras were used for the ceremony at the Civic Center, and Comcast SportsNet coordinated the pool coverage.
“We also had a Sprinter uplink truck at the beginning and end of the parade route,” says Koppett. An ENG camera was used to record interviews from the motorized cable cars in the parade, with each car featuring two players.
“We had runners on bicycles who would take the discs from the camera and then race back and ingest the material at our operations center,” he adds.
For all involved, the victory not only allowed the staffers, many of whom are life-long Giants fans, a chance not only to celebrate but to shine.
“If the signal doesn’t look good or the production isn’t up to standard, it denigrates the brand,” says Griggs. “Consumers make that connection, and Comcast believes that is important.”