ESPN Moves Baseball Analysts Out of the Booth on Wednesday Night

Last Wednesday night, ESPN play-by-play man Sean McDonough called Jordan Zimmerman’s two-hit shutout from the broadcast booth at Turner Field, the third in a four-game series between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves and the headliner for ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball. This time, McDonough had the place to himself.

He wasn’t calling the game alone, however. ESPN’s analysts — former players Mark Mulder and Doug Glanville — were down on the field, stationed outside the Braves’ and Nationals’ dugouts, respectively.

Giving fans an in-game, field-level perspective is all part of ESPN’s unconventional approach to the broadcast team for Wednesday Night Baseball. Prior to the season, the network announced that it would deploy “a rotating booth” in covering the 2013 slate to optimize ESPN’s deep roster of on-air talent.

“Our whole production staff came up with that idea: [VP, Production] Mike McQuade, [Coordinating Producer, MLB and Baseball Tonight] Nick Davis, [Coordinating Producer, Sunday Night Baseball] Tom Archer, [Producer] Jeff Dufine, and [Director] Derek Mobley,” says Terry Brady, director, ESPN Remote Operations. “We’re always looking for innovations to bring the fans closer to the field and get perspectives that someone sitting at home wouldn’t ordinarily see.”

ESPN mounted a Fletcher robotic camera in each dugout, stationed intentionally to pull triple duty. Says Brady, “They could shoot game action, dugout interaction, and then, when needed, turn around and shoot our talent.”

According to Brady, setting up the analysts near the dugout was not much different from setting them up in the broadcast booth. “We set it up like you normally would. You have a couple of iso monitors, a program monitor, and you have talkback like you would up in a booth. You have a standup stick mic and IFB. It was essentially exactly a booth setup, only down on the field.”

Wednesday’s experiment was part of ESPN’s push to give fans more access to the game, offer a unique perspective, and take advantage of analysts like Mulder and Glanville, who understand the game from their days playing it.

Says Brady, “We try to look at doing different things on Wednesday night — putting GoPro cameras in different locations, different little nuances — so the fan can experience more of the ballpark.”