Fox Sports Doubles Down on MLB Coverage

This weekend, Fox Sports begins its national coverage of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, and it will be a busy one. The number of regular-season games covered is doubling from 26 to 52, including 20 Saturday doubleheaders (10 of which will be exclusive to Fox Sports 1) and even Tuesday and Thursday broadcasts on FS1.

“Next week, we have a Tuesday game in Cincinnati, and that’s going to be interesting as we will come in and use the truck that was used the night before,” says Francisco Contreras, director of field operations, Fox Sports.

Given the large number of games this year, Fox Sports will replicate the NFL production process, whereby the top two games, the A and B games, will have identical equipment complements while the C game will differ slightly.

“The A and B games are both elevated compared to last year, with two Inertia Unlimited X-Mo super-slow-motion cameras and a new RF camera from CP Communications,” says Contreras. “In the past, those were only used for primetime games.”

He adds that the new RF system, which was tested out a couple of weeks ago during horseracing coverage, holds promise.

“It’s a much improved camera, and we’re excited about it,” he adds.

A total of nine cameras will be used for the A and B games, up from six and a handheld last year. The C games, which start in primetime on May 24, will have only one X-Mo instead of two.

The primary remote-production–services provider for the MLB shows will be the MLB broadcasts will be Mountain Mobile because many of the games will originate from stadiums that are home to Fox regional networks that also rely on Mountain Mobile. Game Creek trucks will also be in use for games in Baltimore, Boston, and New York.

The tight reliance on regional-network resources will give Fox Sports a chance to tap into some robotic-camera signals as well as to make use of enhancement tools like Liberovision, which is in use at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium and St. Louis’s Busch Stadium.

Also in the works for later in the season will be the return of Dirtcam with a new, sharper lens.

“We’re talking to some of the venues about [using] it as it worked out so well during the postseason,” adds Contreras.

MLB Network, Fox Sports, and ESPN all broadcast a large number of regular-season games, resulting in a tight bond among their production teams.

“That’s what makes baseball unique,” he explains. “We have calls every month and get together and give advice, and we have good relationships as we’ll see if we can share resources.”