Root Sports Adds Bloomberg Sports Data To Bring Fans Inside the Diamond
Now entering the third MLB campaign branded as Root Sports, DIRECTV’s trio of RSNs in Colorado, Washington, and Pittsburgh have gradually carved out an identity that, on their own, reflects each of their respective markets. However, the three former Fox Sports Net RSNs continue to draw on one key philosophy: bringing the ballpark experience right into viewers’ homes.
“Everything we do goes along with our philosophy of bringing the game experience back to the home,” Bill Roberts, VP of content, DIRECTV Sports Networks. “That includes RF cameras in all the markets, [pre- and post-game] sets right at the stadium, and all the other elements we try to incorporate at the ballpark. We’ve really settled into that concept now after three years.”
Bloomberg Sports Joins the Party
The most significant addition this year to MLB coverage on Root Sports Northwest (Seattle Mariners), Pittsburgh (Pirates), and Rocky Mountain (Colorado Rockies) is the Bloomberg Sports Data platform. Bloomberg Sports’ Duet Lyric plug-in ties the company’s advanced statistical data directly into Root’s Chyron Duet graphics system, allowing the graphics team in the truck to create on-air graphics featuring advanced analytics at the click of a button.
“The most interesting component with Bloomberg is the predictive-stats feature,” says Roberts. “We are fascinated by how those stats can help us and our viewers get a better insight into the game within the game. It allows us to break things down on a pitch-by-pitch basis: what a pitcher or batter might do on the next pitch and so on. We think there is a lot of interesting data there that can help enrich our broadcast.”
Roberts says that all three RSNs will continue to work with Bloomberg Sports to further develop this application throughout the season.
“We continue to work with them on what that data set looks like and how it appears on our air,” he says. “I think it’s always been a challenge to translate that kind of rich information into something that can be simply communicated graphically. So we have been working with Bloomberg to get a very straightforward data set and display methodology that we think will be great for our viewers.”
New Truck Means More Space in Seattle
Mobile TV Group (MTVG) rolled out new dedicated HD mobile-production trucks for both Root Sports Pittsburgh (30HDX) and Rocky Mountain (29HDX), and Root Northwest follows in their footsteps this year. MIRA Mobile has completely revamped its aging M-3 SD unit into an HD single-expando 48-footer that will serve as the home of the away show in Seattle. Instead of the traditional dual-feed model of producing home and away telecasts out of a single truck, M-5 (Northwest’s 53-foot HD unit for the home show) and M-3 are tethered together and share cameras and EVS servers.
MIRA has been providing a similar side-by-side solution for CSN Bay Area since 2008 with MIRA M7HD (53-ft. expando home truck) and M8HD (48-ft. expando visit truck). Game Creek Video debuted a similar two-truck setup for CSN Houston’s first year of Astros coverage, using Apollo (53-ft. expando home truck) and Gemini (44-ft. double-expando away truck).
“Instead of being on the back bench inside of the main truck, there is a separate truck now for the visit team,” says Roberts. “It has been completely refurbished with a new monitor wall, switcher, audio board, etc. They have completely reconfigured the workspace to make it practical for this kind of setup. It’s a reciprocal relationship with duals, so having a good environment for visiting teams helps us when we go out there.”
The Usual Suspects Return
In addition to Bloomberg Sports, Root will once again roll out production elements that have already become staples of its MLB telecasts: Sportvision’s PITCHf/x pitch-tracking system, RF cameras in the stands for all home games, and ultra-high-speed camera systems. Root Northwest will use an I-MOVIX system from Fletcher Sports; MTVG’s Ultra-Mo ultra-slow-motion cameras will be deployed for Pittsburgh; and Rocky Mountain (Denver’s Ultra-Mo system has been upgraded to the v642 model of the Vision Research Phantom camera).
In addition, all three RSNs will continue to produce at-the-ballpark pre- and post-game shows for all home games.
Although the camera complement at each ballpark remains largely intact, Roberts and company have made a few tweaks to the robotic-camera placements. Seattle will feature a new robo by the foul pole that looks down the left-field foul line; Denver’s pair of robotic cameras behind home plate have been moved up to just 10 ft. from the plate — as close to the plate as the league will allow (this was made possible when the Rockies elected to replace the Coors Field backstop during the offseason.