Turner Sends MLBAM’s PitchCast System to the Mound for MLB on TBS
Turner will switch pitch-tracking systems as it begins its midseason 13-game package
Turner Sports ramps up its 13-game MLB on TBS package this Sunday, when the Chicago Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. Although the MLB on TBS production complement is largely similar to last year’s coverage, Turner is making one major change: MLB Advanced Media’s PitchCast system will replace SMT’s PITCHf/x platform in driving TBS’s on-screen PitchTrax virtual graphics.
“We are excited to have [access to] the enhanced statistical data that MLB Advanced Media is able to gather for PitchTrax,” says Chris Brown, director, technical operations, Turner Sports. “We believe it will be even more accurate for viewers and fans, and then we’ll see how we can [leverage] PitchCast even more as the season continues.”
Turner Sports has been using MLBAM’s Statcast platform for the better part of two seasons, but this year will mark the first time the MLB on TBS PitchTrax system will be driven by it. The PitchCast operator and system will be located inside MLB on TBS’s ST18 B unit.
“Obviously, MLBAM is collecting stats on every pitcher as part of their own data archive for Statcast,” says Brown. “Now that we are using [PitchCast], the hope is that there is some synergy down the road in terms of integrating that MLBAM data — both historical and in-game — into the [telecast]. For example, as you do your pitching changes, there’s all sorts of comparisons and breaking down how [the pitchers] perform in particular situations. Working more closely with MLBAM is only going to open up more of those opportunities.”
NEP’s SS18 A unit and ST18 B unit are returning for their third round of MLB on TBS duty this season. The duo will serve as the hub for all 13 productions — which feature (on average) seven hard cameras, one handheld, and three POVs for game coverage — as well as TBS’s NL Postseason coverage.
SS18 and ST18 also serve Turner Sports’ NBA on TNT productions and are designed to be flexible to allow Turner to easily shift from basketball to baseball mode.
“The way the units are designed allows us to have strong flexibility so things can be interchanged and added for baseball with no trouble at all,” says Brown. “I enjoy that we get to work with NEP as partners through this transition each year. The truck goes into NEP’s shop in Pittsburgh, and I send our tech manager and a couple of key individuals out there. We ship pertinent gear, such as Statcast equipment, over to the NEP warehouse, and we switch the truck over from NBA to baseball. That was all completed last week, so we’re now ready for baseball.”
MLB on TBS begins this Sunday with Pirates at Cubs, followed by Yankees at Red Sox on July 16. TBS will nationally showcase one Sunday-afternoon game through the remainder of the 2017 MLB regular season and is the excusive home of the 2017 NL Postseason, from the Wild Card through the NLCS.