SVG Digital Perspective: The Ballpark and the RSN — A Color Comment on the Three-Screen Mixture

In 2012, my family moved from Sweden to San Francisco, and we fell in love with the Giants. Not hard to do, I know. Posey, Pence, Crawford, Belt, Bumgarner: we’re spoiled.

But beyond that, there were three key things that sealed the deal.

First, AT&T Park. Parking’s a cinch, traffic flows fast, and, if you’re willing to risk bankruptcy for club-level seats, the food delivery is fantastic.

Second? SFG Productions and the Fan Engagement team. A great mix of interactivities and music perfectly complements the game, making up for the fact that they have the fifth-smallest videoboard in the league.

But the third leg of our Giants-fandom stool is missing from the ballpark: Kruk & Kuip, the beloved on-air commentators on CSN Bay Area, and the live-production team that backs them up.

An example: On July 5, in the seventh inning of the Rockies vs. Giants game, Angel Pagan and Nick Hundley got into an inexplicable squabble on the field. We watched from the stands as umps, players, and managers scrambled around, squawking at each other. Something was happening. It was taking forever; it was getting … boring.

I hopped onto Twitter and searched for Mike Krukow. Here’s what I found:

  • An official-looking account with no posts in 2016
  • An obviously fraudulent account spewing mean-spirited drivel
  • A faux account with Mike’s image — posted without permission, no doubt

I did find official-ish Giants accounts and a fun snark or two. But I didn’t find out what happened, and it was a lot of search for little reward.

My frustration disappeared in the eighth, known as the Sing-Along inning at AT&T Park. We all sang a Steve Perry hit from the ’70s and watched the videoboard as smiles radiated across the crowd. (You’re not going to believe this, but I made the videoboard that night, and I have the actual footage here: vimeo.com/user22592917/videoboard-happiness )

Later, I watched that seventh inning off my DVR. The transcript is below:

Kruk: Well … yeah, they’re woofin’ out pretty hard from the Rockies dugout. So, to say that Pagan has the attention of the Rockies’ dugout is a bit of an understatement. They’re not gonna let it go.

Kuip: Well, Jerry Davis is the crew chief; he has called a meeting between the four of them.

Kruk: Well, I don’t even understand what the meeting would be about! It’s just some woofin’ back and forth between the players. Pagan was walking back to the dugout, and Hundley had a few things to say to him. And that lit up Pagan again. So, just a little sauce on the guacamole. You know, add some spice to the rivalry!

It brought a warm smile to my face and three lessons to mind:

  1. The live-TV-production team adds a ton of value by curating, editing, and commenting — precisely what’s missing from the Twitter second-screen experience.
  2. The stadium Fan Engagement team adds precious value with its hashtagging, community-nurturing talent. They’re like camp counselors, creating and capturing smiles with their interactive social-video tricks. They also serve as a positive role model for ways to make TV more social.
  3. There’s a lot of happiness in sports. Extracting that happiness involves mixing TV, mobile, and videoboard experiences. They’re going to be orchestrated by different teams of talented creators. These teams work in different organizations, but the sports business knows what “stronger together” really means.