Fox Sports Florida Hooks Marlins, Rays Fans with More HD

By Ken Kerschbaumer

For Fox Sports Florida Ned Tate, executive producer for Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays telecasts, 2009 is shaping up as the year of HD as both teams surge past the 100 mark for scheduled HD telecasts this season.

“We’re increasing our HD games to about 70% this year,” says Tate. “And while we won’t have an Inertia Unlimited X-mo we will be doing some experimenting with robotic cameras at Tropicana Field for Rays games.” Viewers can look for robotic cameras to be grabbing shots from locations on the B or C ring at the top of the stadium.

Another change for Rays games will be a 30-minute pregame show, something new for home telecasts. “Historically first pitch was at 7:15 but we didn’t want to do a 45-minute pre-game show,” says Tate. “But this year the games have been moved up to 7:08.”

Mobile production units are provided by Mobile TV Group with 22HDX residing at Dolphin Stadium for the Marlins and 8HDX at Tropicana Field for the Rays games. “Both are dual-feed trucks,” says Tate.

The big changes this year are on the personnel side with Kevin Patterson jumping to lead producer for Rays games. Patterson previously produced Orlando Magic pre-games and college events for the network. Two new analysts, Kevin Kennedy and Brian Anderson, have also been added to Rays games.

Unlike previous years, expectations for both the Marlins and Rays are high this year. “We hope they live up to the expectations,” says Tate. “We’ll have significant home pre-game for the first home Rays game [against the Yankees] with a one-hour pregame for raising the banner.”

Hopefully the improved play on the field will continue to be reflected in ratings, opening up the potential for new production enhancements.

“We experimented with the X-mo two years ago and hope to use it down the road but right now all our additional money is going to HD,” says Tate. “We love the bells and whistles but the number one hot button is HD.”