MASN Heats Up Nationals Broadcasts With X-Mo

By Carolyn Braff

As the only regional sports network to produce every game for two Major League Baseball teams (the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals), the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has an extremely full plate every season. This year, however, MASN is heaping it on: more than doubling its HD output, enhancing the broadcast look with a new graphics package and X-mo camera, and adding on-location sets for every home game’s pre- and post-game shows.

“MASN is the only RSN in the country that produces every game for two baseball teams,” says network spokesman Todd Webster. “We do more than 320 Major League Baseball games every season, across MASN and MASN2. This year, we have a dedicated HD channel which we’re maxing out with an HD game every day of the season.”

For this year’s Washington Nationals coverage (check back next week for details on coverage of the Orioles), MASN will more than double the number of HD broadcasts, from 40 in 2008 to 105 in 2009. The network will record every game in HD, but because there is only one HD channel which must be shared by the two teams, not every game can be televised in HD.

Although the cost of producing so many HD broadcasts is not trivial, Webster explains that it would be far more costly not to: “For archival purposes and replay purposes, we need to have that history in HD.”

The network televises full pre- and post-game shows that accompany each broadcast, which will be produced in HD for all home games. Those HD pre- and post-game shows will be 30-minute live remote productions using a new set built on-site at Nationals Park in Washington. MASN is adding a jib camera this season that will provide panoramic views from the new set. A new graphics package created with Lyric software will help make those shows pop but was designed to bring the fans closer to the in-game action as well.

“There’s a completely new game and show graphics package that incorporates the modern, translucent look with animation,” Webster explains. “The graphics also give MASN the ability to add statistical information, situational and player data that hasn’t been present in the past.”

Stringing all those production elements together is NCP, MASN’s mobile-production partner. Supershooter 9 serves as MASN’s production truck for every home game for both the Orioles and the Nationals, so it spends the baseball season shuttling between Camden Yards in Baltimore and Nationals Park. For the six games this season when both teams are at home, NCP will provide a second truck; the supplier supports all of MASN’s productions for road games as well.

Adding to MASN’s 14-camera lineup this season is an X-mo camera provided by Inertia Unlimited. The camera, which can shoot up to 2,000 frames per second, will most likely be utilized at 500 frames per second — shooting at 2,000 would take too much time for playback — and placed in a low-camera position to capture the action on plays at first base.

“We’re very excited about that X-mo cam,” Webster says. “It provides crystal-clear images, and it is in HD as well.”

Opening Day is less than a month away, and SVG is counting down to the first pitch with a look at the regional sports networks responsible for producing games for all 30 Major League Baseball teams. SVG is checking in with each RSN to detail the news and expectations leading up to the 2009 baseball season one conference at a time. For the complete SVG 30 In 30 Index, click here.