Sunday, July 11, 2010

Over The Air vs Cable

St. Louis Cardinals baseball airs 133 times on Fox cable and 22 times on the over-the-air station KSDK.
There are quite a few differences between these two broadcast outlets.
All of the commercials for Fox run from a coord studio in Houston, Texas, while approximately two-thirds of the commercials on KSDK are network spots and air from the truck. The other one- third of the commercial inventory are local spots and are the responsibility of the individual stations or cable outlets that are airing the game.
There is a difference for the TV production team when commercials are running from the truck and when they are not airing from the mobile unit. When the commercials are airing from Houston (on Fox broadcasts) or from the local affiliates (on KSDK shows) we are able to relax a bit more because the telecast is not in our hands at that moment. Whenever anything is airing from the truck, we are totally responsible for the content and, even though the commercial is airing from site, the relaxation factor isn't has strong as when the commercials are handled elsewhere.
Televising baseball and, in fact, all live sporting events can be a bit strenuous. After all, the sports TV crew has one chance and one chance only to capture the action of the game in the best way possible.
Inserting graphics during the telecast is also different between Fox and KSDK.
Fox likes all of their lower third batter fonts to be inserted blind. This means that the batter shot is taken, the graphic is inserted by the Technical Director (TD) and with a key stroke by the duet operator (graphics machine), the graphic animates on the air.
On the KSDK telecasts, the lower third batter fonts are inserted by the TD with no blind reveal animation.
I agree with the thinking of Fox that this method of insertion of graphics "dresses up" the telecast, but I also realize that the chances of a mistake being made are much greater using this method of graphic insertion.
This may not seem like that big of a deal but think of how many times batter graphics are used during a show and you can understand the point I am making here.
The Fox box for the Fox shows and the score box for the KSDK telecasts are completely different as well. There is 80% more animations, information, and sound from the Fox box than the score box. This is the way the software is set up for each particular box.
On page 29 of my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair (, I write about the responsibilities of the score box operator. The person running the score box must always be in the game, especially on Fox telecasts.
The Fox shows and the KSDK shows have different announcers, music, and effects.
These shows sound different.
These broadcast outlets have different video "opens" (the first video the viewer sees at the start of the telecast), replay moves, graphics, and transitions.
These shows look different.
These shows may sound different and these shows may look different, but these show have one thing in common - they cover the great game of baseball.
It is the responsibility of the TV crew to give each broadcast outlet the sound they want and the look they want during the coverage of this wonderful game.
It is great fun working with different broadcast outlets.
It is more fun covering the game of baseball.

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