Spring Training Television

We’re Talking About Practice!

Last week I posted the story about how the New England Sports Network (NESN) is providing live coverage of Spring Training workouts of the Boston Red Sox. Living in New England and having access to NESN, I thought I would check in with the coverage to see what it was all about.

I’m a baseball nut, as are most sports fans in Red Sox Nation. Despite the success of other pro sports franchises in the region, New England is still a baseball haven first. So it was natural for NESN to take advantage of this fanaticism by providing coverage of the team literally from the get go. It helps that NESN is the sole local television play-by-play entity of the defending World Champions. And oh yeah, they’re partially owned by the Red Sox.

NESN’s telecast consisted of two hours of LIVE coverage from the team’s Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, FL. These live feeds took place in the morning during the team’s normal workout schedule. The program was rebroadcast several times throughout the day to accommodate many audiences.

You’d think that two hours of players stretching, running, and throwing would not make for intriguing television. And you’d be right. But NESN rarely showed much of the players working out. Instead they used the time to preview this year’s club by interviewing members of the media who cover the team. The network has a partnership with the Boston Globe so much of the time was taken up by scribes of the Beantown sheet.

NESN was able to secure interviews with players as they made their way to and from the fields of play. Sox front office personnel also made their way to the NESN stage.

The network coverage was buoyed by camera placements across the five fields at the training complex. If something of interest took place in the complex, NESN had a way to show it to the fans back home.

Overall I thought the coverage was well done. I like the fact that the network decided to create original local content at a time of the day when it generally runs infomercials or replays of classic Sox or Bruins games. NESN also never missed a beat in promoting their pre-season Sox telecast schedule as well as hyping opening day, which for Boston is March 25th against Oakland in Japan. FYI, coverage on NESN begins at 5am ET…

Obviously the NESN coverage would not work well in most cities with MLB franchises. But in snowbound New England, any programming featuring the Old Towne Team is always welcome.

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