MLB Network Gets Back Into Regular-Season Swing With 20 Days of Games
Baseball’s 24/7 home will broadcast 40 games this month, debut two weekly shows, refresh graphics
Despite the deep freeze that has settled over the Northeast this week, MLB Network was up bright and early yesterday for the annual rite of spring: Opening Day. And a memorable Opening Day it was. For 17 hours, MLB Network delivered live coverage of the day’s festivities, and it continues today with live broadcasts of three back-to-back games.
Beginning with today’s 2015 World Series rematch between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets at 4:00 p.m. ET, MLB Network will televise 40 live game telecasts this month, at least one live regular-season game for 20 straight days.
“What we’ve tried to do is stack April with a lot of games to get viewers back into baseball,” explains Dave Patterson, SVP, production, MLB Network. “The April baseball schedule is all over the place — there’s a lot of day games and night games — so for us to do 20 straight days is a big undertaking, but we want to have baseball as many days in a row as possible. If we could do it every day, we would.”
Although the majority of the games will be coordinated through regional sports networks, MLB Network has five of its own MLB Showcase Games planned for this month, beginning this Friday with the Toronto Blue Jays’ home opener (MLB Network will air five home openers).
“Usually, we do four in a month, but [this year] we’re doing five MLB Network Showcase Games in April, including two in a row up in Boston at the end of the month,” says Patterson. “Again, we’re trying to get off to a good start. Our first game is Toronto at home — their opener — which will be a pretty exciting atmosphere since they did so well last year against the Red Sox.”
MLB Network will roll out Game Creek River Hawk and GCV-B2 and deploy 12 cameras for its Showcase telecasts, including the cameras needed for the network’s Statcast tracking technology and Inertia Unlimited X-Mo cameras for selected games. Viewers will notice a new open and tease based on the Field of Dreams open unveiled during the 2015 postseason, as well as a new graphics package. MLB Tonight and Intentional Talk have new graphics packages and animation as well.
In addition to live game coverage, MLB Network will launch two shows this weekend. Play Ball, a weekly show geared toward younger baseball fans, will air Saturday at 10 a.m. Hosted by Harold Reynolds, the show follows Major League Baseball and USA Baseball’s PLAY BALL Initiative and will feature one-on-one baseball demonstrations and conversations with top players. The show will be shot predominantly on location, but MLB Network will leverage Studio 42 for selected segments and demos. Following Play Ball will be the new MLB Network Breakdown at 10:30 a.m., a 30-minute show featuring the week’s best breakdowns and demos by MLB Network analysts. It will originate out of Studio 42.
Not to be forgotten amid Opening Day excitement, last year’s merging of MLB Network and NHL Network operations at the former’s Secaucus, NJ, facility means that NHL playoffs are very much top of mind for the MLB Network team.
When asked how the upcoming playoffs have affected his preparation, Patterson laughs, “I just sleep less, that’s all. But it’s been great. We have a really good staff here, and we’re pretty excited about the playoffs. … It’s going to be an interesting April with both networks coming out of here, but it’s great to have two networks here, and we’re really excited about the hockey because the playoffs can be a real exciting time.”