FOX Sports Kansas City Riding High On Resurgent Royals
A stunning run to the World Series in 2014 by the Kansas City Royals has put a once-proud franchise back on the map and the buzz has carried into a new season with the team sitting atop the AL Central standings following the first month of play in 2015. As a result, FOX Sports Kansas City has become the nightly television destination for loads of Midwesterners.
Royals games on FOX Sports Kansas City currently rank as the No. 1-rated programming in primetime since the start of the season in the Kansas City market and ratings are up 120% year-to-year (through April 30).
Amidst the fervor, FOX Sports Midwest has ramped up its technical enhancements and operations on Royals home and away telecasts with the introduction of a new pregame and postgame studio set inside Kauffman Stadium and the addition of super-slow motion cameras.
There’s a lot to be excited about both on the field and behind the scenes, but Larry Mago, executive producer for FOX Sports Midwest, Indiana, and Kansas City, is keeping things in perspective.
“In our end of the world, where we actually work on the game broadcasts themselves, it’s fun to see the ratings go up but it doesn’t really change the day-to-day of what we do,” says Mago. “We still have the same effort and the same challenges. It’s an energized feeling but our day-to-day is to still put on a great show — home and road — and to approach each day as its own unique three-and-a-half-hour series on Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals.”
Royals home productions feature a bevy of tech enhancements, including this season’s big expansion on the slow-motion end where the production crew will deploy as many as two Grass Valley LDX 6X cameras on most broadcasts. Like many in the industry, Mago calls the device a “game-changing camera” due to its ability to serve both as a live camera and a slow-mo camera simultaneously.
The production crew is also experimenting with new ways to utilize a roving RF camera. Instead of using it for its traditional scenic and environmental shots, the crew is having it head down to field level – sometimes in the baseline camera wells – to get close-up angles of pitch speed and batter reaction times.
“We really want viewers to experience that pitch,” says Mago. “You’re used to looking at it from centerfield and it looks easy to hit. When you get low, it’s right there. The batters has, what, 3/10 of a second to react? So we’re using that camera in a variety of ways to showcase the speed of baseball.”
The centerpiece of FOX Sports Kansas City’s updated Royals coverage is a new studio set over the left field wall that’s adjacent to the Royals Hall of Fame at Kauffman Stadium. Following the parent company FOX Sports using the space during last year’s World Series, FOX Sports Midwest worked with scenery and sets pros at parent FOX on a smaller set in a similar style in the same location. Previously, FOX Sports Kansas City’s set was located in right field and was at a much lower elevation.
FOX Sports Midwest’s primary game truck is Mobile TV Group’s HDX32, which handles a lot of work in St. Louis but will occasionally make its way out to Kansas City when the schedule allows it. Typically, though, Mobile TV Group HDX20 finds itself at Kauffman Stadium. The truck covers the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans for FOX Sports Southwest, but is free to travel up to Kansas City following the end of the NBA season.
Royals games on FOX Sports Kansas City are produced by Joe Loverro and directed by Steve Kurtenbach. Royals Live pre- and postgame is produced by Bryan Schapiro.