NBC Sports Regional Networks Carry the Baseball Banner for the Peacock
With the defending World Series Champion out west and a new network in Texas, this season promises to be an exciting one for the NBC Sports Regional Networks. Part of the NBC Sports Group, the Comcast Sports Networks in the Bay Area, Chicago, Philadelphia, and now Houston will combine to collectively produce nearly 1,000 games this year, all in HD.
“The NBC Sports Group brand, for us, is always about excellent team coverage locally,” says Jon Slobotkin, VP/executive producer, live events, NBC Sports Regional Networks. “For us, our theme has always been dominate the market, so, if you want to know anything about your baseball team, you come to one of our platforms. Clearly, with pregames and postgames for every game that we do, 24/7 news operations both online and digitally with beat reporters and insiders for all of our teams, we cover your bases, so to speak, and do it with great pride.”
Houston Joins the Family
Comcast SportsNet Houston is the newest of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, debuting prior to the Houston Rockets season last fall. A partnership of the Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, and NBC Sports Group, CSN Houston serves viewers in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
“We have a new production facility that was built for us [in Houston] and two new remote trucks: one will handle our home shows, the other will handle visiting feeds for anybody that wishes to take part in that,” says Slobotkin. “Game Creek Video was the contractor for that, and they’ve done a wonderful job.”
Last fall, the NBC Sports Group launched a new graphics package for its live event pregame and postgame coverage. It is tailored to the network’s regional baseball coverage.
“The NBC national networks do not produce baseball, [so, at] the regional level, we’re carrying the banner for them,” says Slobotkin. “We’ve taken the graphics package and adapted it to a lot of specific baseball things, so we’re very excited about it. The graphics look great, and I’m thrilled with the product.”
The NBC Sports Regional Networks will continue to deploy a minimum of 10 cameras on all home broadcasts, including an Inertia Unlimited X-Mo. During the offseason, the regional networks took the opportunity to explore camera positions at each of the home venues — where the existing positions are, where new ones could be added — and examine where fiber could be cleaned and maintained.
Statistics will continue to play a pivotal role in each market. Elias Sports Bureau will provide statistical data, and Bloomberg Sports will handle second-level analytics.
“We’re going to bring the next layer of [statistics] and look at some numbers that both the folks at Elias and Bloomberg are working in conjunction with us to develop that will be more revealing,” says Slobotkin. “Baseball is a game, more than any other sport, that many of the stories are told by numbers, and we’re trying to delve a little deeper into that.”
Delivering Top-Notch Regional Coverage
From the Bay Area to Philadelphia and all stops in between, the NBC Sports Regional Networks will strive to be the go-to source for team news in each market. In addition to exploring camera positions and technical-maintenance issues in each home venue, during the offseason, the regional networks work to build the relationship with team partners and determine how best to promote the team.
“We take very seriously the rabid passion of our fans in all of our markets, so we do our best to feed their passion on a daily basis,” says Slobotkin. “Between the blanket coverage of pregames and postgames, news department, and digital, we do not take our responsibility lightly. Every year, that’s a point of emphasis for us, and it just seems to get ratcheted up every year.
‘With Houston joining us,” he continues, “for the first time in a couple of years, we have an opportunity to expand into a new market. Having the chance to spread that brand down into the Houston market is a very, very exciting opportunity for us. It’s a great time for us with the NBC Sports Regional Networks.”