NEP Inks Deal With MLB Network Through 2011

NEP Broadcasting and MLB Network have reached a deal that will make NEP the network’s mobile provider through the 2011 MLB season. During its inaugural season in 2009, MLB Network deployed NEP’s Supershooter 11 for its Thursday Night Baseball productions and other remotes and will continue to do so this year.

“Supershooter 11 is a terrific smaller HD truck, which is perfect for [Thursday Night Baseball] since it is a single-day set-shoot-strike show,” says Susan Stone, VP of operations, MLB Network. “It’s critical for us to have an [exclusive truck] since we are a one-day type of operation and don’t have time [to make constant changes].”

SS11 has also been used for MLB Network’s coverage of the MLB All-Star Game, National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, World Series, and Triple-A All-Star Game. The truck features a Grass Valley Kalypso switcher, Calrec Omega audio console, Sony HDC cameras, EVS XT[2] servers, a Duet Hyper X3, and virtual-monitor walls throughout.

New to SS11 productions this year is a POV camera for the announcers booth and a super-slo-mo camera (or x-mo camera for high-profile matchups). In addition, MLB Network has permanently installed a SportsMedia Autograph character generator for the score bug as well as a Vizrt graphics generator.

“We are doing graphics on-site this year,” says Stone. “Having our own truck is a must, especially the Viz platform. Just the stability of having it stay in a truck and not having to ship and move it and reinstall it every week is huge.”

While it may be the same truck, SS11 is a very different animal this year. Depending on the game in 2009, the network alternated between a full six-camera shoot and a more modest three- to four-camera shoot with a supplemental clean feed from the RSN home truck. In 2010, however, MLB Network plans to roll out a full production for every game.

“We’re doing full pickups for every game this year,” says Stone. “In our first year, we did kind of a combination coverage deal, where some weeks we did a full pickup and some weeks we didn’t. This year, though, we’ve really tried to upgrade our production capabilities.”

MLB Network and the SS11 have been a perfect fit since the network launched in early 2009, but, according to Stone, the marriage would not be complete with Engineer in Charge Paul Ferguson.

“The critical component for us is Paul Ferguson. He has been fantastic,” she says. “He knows our show, and he knows our setup. When you have a good EIC and you develop that quality relationship and they know your show, it makes all the difference between a successful, smooth setup and one that can be fraught with difficulty.”