Baseball Tonight To Hit the Road
The 2011 season of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight will cover more ground than ever: the network has decided to take its studio show on the road. Each week, Baseball Tonight will travel to the site of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball game to provide on-location reports at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. By positioning its set outside the ballpark, the network hopes to capture the atmosphere as fans enter the stadium, giving a new feel to the news and information show.
“We think it will feel bigger and be more engaging and fun,” explains Mike McQuade, VP of production for ESPN. “Being adjacent to the ballpark where fans pass will lend more of a College GameDay atmosphere. It will offer the perspective of being there. There will also be a natural integration of Sunday Night Baseball’s Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine into the show.”
The on-location show will be hosted by Karl Ravech (entering his 17th season), John Kruk, and Barry Larkin, with contributions from Sunday Night Baseball analysts Hershiser and Valentine, as well as from reporters Buster Olney and Wendi Nix. An additional 12 staffers will make the on-site trip each week to produce Baseball Tonight on the road.
“There are always challenges when debuting something this ambitious,” McQuade says. “We’re going to be on the road for a majority of the Sundays over a 26-week Sunday Night Baseball schedule. There are a lot of site surveys and conversations involved in securing the location for the set. We’re also feeding more Baseball Tonight content across all of our ESPN platforms this season and integrating our event and studio areas into one group for the first time.”
Between the 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. shows, Baseball Tonight will feed content to ESPN’s news and information shows, as well as multiplatform offerings on ESPN.com, ESPN Radio, and ESPN Mobile TV.
ESPN is working closely with Major League Baseball and the host teams to provide a location outside the venue for each 7 p.m. show. The goal is to provide a sense of being there, while the show provides highlights from every game played that day, league news and information, stadium-specific segments, a game preview, and analysis of pitching match-ups.
“Our main focus is on the show’s content,” McQuade says. “If the product is as good as we expect it to be, it will be a great experience for MLB fans.”
In most stadiums the network visits for the Baseball Tonight traveling show, ESPN will utilize a 20′ by 20′ stage with a set desk and four cameras.
“We will support Baseball Tonight out of one truck, NCP 10, which was constructed with an expandable B-unit with a small control room, edit/sub-mix room, and EVS and robotic camera work stations,” McQuade explains. “The show will be integrated [at ESPN headquarters] in Bristol. All communications and transmission will be on fiber. We have two outbound HD fiber paths, one inbound HD path, and a data path.”
The 2011 Baseball Tonight season will begin on April 3 in Los Angeles, when the the San Francisco Giants visit the Dodgers.