World Series Preview: MLB Network Builds on Postseason Success With Onsite Presence
The long wait is over for baseball fans in Cleveland and Chicago. With a combined 90 years without a World Series appearance, the long-suffering franchises return to the Fall Classic tonight, and MLB Network will be on the ground at both Progressive Field and Wrigley Field, surrounding every game with pre/postgame coverage and plenty of live reporting.
Throughout the World Series, MLB Network’s studio programming will be on the road, with High Heat With Christopher Russo, MLB Now, Intentional Talk, and MLB Tonight originating from either Cleveland or Chicago. For the second year, MLB Network will also produce the world feed.
“Every year, we become a more coordinated effort,” says Susan Stone, SVP, operations and engineering, MLB Network. “This year, we’re producing the world feed; we have our studio shows on the road, so our entire programming day is coming from our field set. We also partner with MLBAM … to turn around all of the digital requirements, features, and ENG and file-transfer that to Chelsea and Secaucus for posting online [as well as] editing in Secaucus for all of baseball’s various partners to access the footage as needed.”
In Cleveland, Game Creek Justice will handle all studio programming; Dome Productions Journey and B unit, the world feed. In Chicago, Game Creek Gemini will take care of studio programming; Game Creek Amazin’ and B2, the world feed.
A total of nine cameras will be deployed for studio coverage in each city: three cameras on the set (including a jib), two on the field for reporter coverage, and four shared with the world feed. MLB Network will work with CP Communications on RF coordination for the roving cameras, and all cameras will be homerun to Secaucus via The Switch and a redundant Level 3 path.
MLB Network worked with Filmwerks on the hydraulic set and stage for its studio programming and will debut a new desk for its National League coverage to match the desk built last year for its American League coverage. Both desks provide added signage opportunities for sponsorship needs.
“It’s basically almost a replica of our Studio 3 desk, so it gives it a pretty good synergy on the road with our studio,” says Tom Guidice, VP, remote operations, MLB Network. “The goal is to have identical looks in both cities.”
For the world feed, MLB Network will use a total of seven cameras, including the shared studio-coverage cameras and several Fox Sports iso cameras. MLB Network’s Showcase production team will produce the world feed onsite and mux various versions of the production to Secaucus, where it will be transmitted to Encompass Digital Media and distributed to international rightsholders.
“We have this group that’s doing 28 Showcase games and two division-series games a year,” says Stone. “It just makes sense for them to continue that because they have the synergy going, they have the chemistry going, they know how to work together to do the All-Star game and the World Series world feed, which we love doing because, if you’re a game producer, what’s better than producing the World Series?”
MLB Network will have about 150 people onsite at both Progressive Field and Wrigley Field, with approximately 80 traveling between the two stadiums, to produce six hours of studio programming a day and the world feed.
Heading into Game 1 tonight, MLB Network hopes to build on its postseason success: its two NLDS game telecasts led to its best combined postseason viewership to date, and its coverage of NLDS Game 2 between the Cubs and San Francisco Giants was the highest-rated and most-watched telecast in MLB Network’s seven-year history.
“For us, what is such a great story is the success of our postseason viewership of our two NLDS games this year, which was really exciting,” says Stone. “We were proud of the product that we put out, and the viewership was so much higher than in the past. We were really proud of our efforts.”