Behind the Digital Scenes: A Play-by-Play of YES Network’s Game-Day Digital Operations
An inside look at how in-game Yankees content creation goes well beyond the linear telecast
A decade ago, YES Network decreed that its digital team would be embedded in its linear-production operation. Today, that strategy continues to pay off as the YES Network digital and studio-production teams in Stamford, CT, work side by side to create content that can service both the linear telecast and YES’s website and social-media channels. When SVG visited Stamford last month, the digital team provided a behind-the-scenes look at how YES Network serves up digital content before, during, and after a regular-season Yankees night game.
Meet the Team: Digital and Studio Crews Unite
Here are some of the key players from YES Network’s digital-media team (overseen by Michael Spirito, head of business development and digital media, Fox Sports Networks), who work with the studio-production crew (headed by Coordinating Producer Jared Boshnack) to create fresh digital content during every game:
- Kevin Sullivan, director, digital media
- AJ Herrmann, coordinator, digital media content
- Matthew Stucko, web video producer
- Lou DiPietro, content editor
- Glenn Giangrande, senior writer
5 – 6 p.m.: Pregame Prep and Joe Girardi’s Pregame Press Conference
Sullivan: Between 5 and 6, we are really just prepping for the game and making sure we’re getting Girardi’s quotes from his pregame press conference. We get the entire press conference [transmitted to us] in-house and probably get about five minutes of it on the pregame show. In addition to that, AJ or Lou will watch the entire press conference and write up a quick pregame story on his quotes. We also stream the entire press conference, which we have been doing quite a while.
That leads us into Yankees Batting Practice Today, which begins on [the linear network at 6 p.m.]. We will also take content from that and post it [on the website and social].
6:30 p.m.: New York Yankees Pregame Show Begins
Sullivan: AJ cuts video clips using Snappy TV throughout the pregame show. If Jack and Bob [Lorenz, YES Studio Anchor] are talking about tonight’s starter and his numbers against the Blue Jays, he will cut 30 seconds of that and put that on Twitter and Facebook, as well as, potentially, Instagram if he thinks it’s going to be engagement-worthy. AJ does that through the entire pregame show.
7 p.m.: First Pitch and First-Inning Highlight
Sullivan: In the first inning, we [have the rights] to post one highlight. AJ is in charge of picking that highlight, cutting it with Snappy TV posting it, and driving viewers then to the television broadcast or to Fox Sports Go to watch the game.
We have a checklist of all the things we have to do for a highlight tweet: is there a sponsor tonight, where does the sponsor go, is it a pregame sponsor, do we have a postgame quote of the night sponsor? First inning highlight is one of them.
3rd – 8th Inning: Live Tweeting With a Focus on Engagement
Sullivan: Once you get out of the second inning, from there on to the ninth inning, we are going to push a lot of fun content. Throughout the game, AJ will do a series of live tweeting with a focus on engagement-based tweets. We’re interactive, and we’re tweeting. There’s not a lot of sponsorship or rules during that period, so we try to really engage our audience and think outside the box.
What we don’t do is say, “The Yankees are up 5-4 in the third inning” and then “Yankees score; now they’re up 6-4.” That is not going to drive any kind of engagement. In the early days, around 2010, we were tweeting out scores and tweeting out basic stats. I think that served its purpose at that point in time, but we saw pretty quickly, once the analytics and tool set around posting became more readily available, that it wasn’t the best strategy. You could see we just weren’t driving any level of engagement with that content. Moreover, people could see it in a dozen different places. They can get that from us, but they’re not coming to us for that. So now we make an effort to get engagement through fun, unique content and interaction. We are looking for retweets and shares.
4th Inning: Experimenting on Facebook Live With YES In-Game Live
Sullivan: We are trying something tonight [Aug. 9] on Facebook Live that we have done only a couple times [and are] calling YES In-Game Live. It’s not something we plan on doing all the time, but we want to keep pushing the envelope with Facebook Live and build on the success we’ve had with our production meeting [live streams].
Our Web Producer and personality Matt Stucko is going to sit down with Bob Lorenz during the fourth inning and essentially talk about the game and have some fun with fans. We’ll be asking fans to submit questions on Facebook for Bob, and we’re hoping to have a little fun with it. They will, of course, talk about the game but also music, movies, pop culture, and stuff Bob is interested in. I’ll be producing it myself using our [Telestream] Wirecast system. And we also have a sponsor, Jaguar, which we’re very excited about.
9th Inning: A Trio of Highlights To Close Out the Game
Sullivan: Once we get back to the ninth inning, we get back into posting some more highlights. We [have the rights to] three more highlights that we’re allowed to use strictly on our website. This allows us to look back at the game and find the key moments, so we can present those to fans and, hopefully, quickly tell the story of the game.
Postgame: New York Yankees Post Game Plus
Giangrande: Immediately after the postgame show ends, we tape Yankees Post Game Plus. We grab three highlights, have Bob Lorenz [voice them], and then it’s out the door. We try to keep Post Game Plus to 3-5 minutes total. As the game goes on, I’ll get together with the person putting together the highlights sheets for the postgame show, and we’ll come up with the three plays of the night. Then we’ll have our EVS operator put them together into a playlist. It’s a team effort and try to tell the story of the night in three plays the best we can.
When the sound comes down from the [postgame press conference], we may use a couple soundbites. If the Yankees lose, we tend to just have 90 seconds from Joe Girardi. If the Yankees win, we will usually have both Girardi and a key player who had a big impact on the game but still try to keep the soundbites to about 90 seconds total.
Then, I’ll write up a quick 25-second on-camera lead for our talent, and then Bob Lorenz will read the highlights followed by the same full-screen scoreboard graphic afterwards that our graphics department creates for the main postgame show. That will lead to the soundbite, and then we come out with a quick little goodbye from the talent, finishing up Post Game Plus and teasing tomorrow’s game on YES.