SBD/March 7, 2012/Media

MLB Network's Petitti Hopes Enhanced Audio Broadcast Leads To Regular-Season Effort

Petitti says enhanced audio is an unchartered area in sports business
MLB Network President & CEO Tony Petitti said today's enhanced audio game between the D'Backs and Indians ideally will be a forerunner to more such efforts in the regular season. "This is not a small thing to do, and there are a number of key stakeholders with whom we need to work with on this," Petitti said. "But, yes, the hope is that we learn a lot here and that it sparks more discussion. We're confident the fans are going to like it, and a lot of what's being done can theoretically be applied in the regular season." Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the D'Backs' Spring Training home, as well as a large selection of players, coaches and umpires will be specially wired for today's 3:00pm ET telecast on MLB Network in an effort to capture live natural sounds of the game generally lost in baseball telecasts. Up to six players at any given time will be wired, but given the frequent substitutions of exhibition games, dozens of players potentially will be participating in the experiment. Pitchers have been exempted from the effort, in part due to strategic concerns over revealed communications about pitch selection. And profanity will be screened by two separate seven-second delays -- one in the production truck in Arizona and another at MLB Network HQs in Secaucus, N.J. Monitors operating the delays will have fluency in both English and Spanish. The broadcast has been more than two years in the making. "Enhancements in audio, particularly live audio, is still an untapped, unchartered area in our business," Petitti said. "We think the sky is the limit, and it's going to open up a whole new look into the game." Asked to compare the potential effect of the enhanced live audio to 3D TV, which has seen only limited applications to date in baseball, Petitti said, "This is potentially more like a first-down line, a cable cam, or some other production enhancement. You're not asking the consumer to get or buy anything different. This is something anybody can access" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

GOING INSIDE THE GAME: MLB Network’s Mitch Williams said of today's game, “It’s great because the fans at home, sitting there, watching the game on MLB Network can actually hear the camaraderie on the field. And I think that’s a great thing for the fans” (“MLB Tonight Live,” MLB Network, 3/6).
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