In a move that could freshen up the baseball broadcasting landscape, MLB Network announced it will experiment with two unique concepts during live game broadcasts this week, including a possible hint at replicating the NFL’s addictive RedZone format.
According to a Monday announcement, MLB Network will present a Statcast-driven broadcast for Thursday's Washington Nationals-New York Mets game (1:00 p.m. ET) and a studio-centric broadcast during Friday's Chicago Cubs-Milwaukee Brewers game (8:00 p.m. ET) that can bounce around to other action.
Both games will be broadcast remotely from the MLB Network studios.
This concept isn't really new, but it's one MLB Network seems committed to featuring.
In the past, both ESPN and MLB Network have presented stat-driven broadcasts. In ESPN's case it often serves as an alternative broadcast on one of the company's secondary networks. In this case, it will be the main focus of MLB Network’s presentation. Brian Kenny, Cliff Floyd and MLB.com writer Sarah Langs will be breaking down the Statcast data in real time, which will give fans a different perspective of the action.
If you love instant statistical analysis, this broadcast will be for you. If you're not completely sold on Statcast or don't necessarily understand what it means, this broadcast is still worth checking out. If nothing else, it's an opportunity to gain a better understanding of its popularity and value.
If you can’t watch this week, no worries. MLB Network will be doing additional Statcast broadcasts for Rays-Yankees on Aug. 20th and Angels-Astros on Aug. 27th.
We recently wondered if MLB could pull off a “RedZone” style broadcast or if fans would buy it.
This might be the league's first step toward finding an answer.
On Friday night, the MLB Tonight crew of Greg Amsinger, Dan Plesac, and Harold Reynolds will provide commentary on the Brewers-Cubs game while also bouncing around to other games where big moments are happening.
In the network's release, it's noted that the broadcast will be flexible and will include a multi-box format for live look-ins. It's similar to what we see on the NFL's RedZone channels, though in that case there's no featured game anchoring the broadcast. MLB Network will also mix in live demos from the studio when it makes sense.
Friday night is always the most action-packed time of the week for MLB, so this is the perfect time to experiment with this concept. The network has not committed to a studio-driven broadcast beyond Friday's game, but if successful it's something that could serve the league well moving forward. Especially this season. With fewer games and more teams making the postseason, September games will be filled with postseason implications.
It’s also good to see there's a willingness on MLB’s part to try new things and see what works. Baseball needs to find ways to lure in new fans. Maybe these concepts will garner some momentum.
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