MLB Network unveils brand new social media studio
Even though it’s the off-season for the MLB, the MLB Network is hard at work leveraging social media by curating off-season chatter through their programming — and now they’ve rolled out a brand new social media area inside of their state-of-the-art Studio 3 in New Jersey.
The social area of the studio serves up 108-inch touchscreens for MLB Network talent to interact with fans through Facebook polls,Twitter and email. MLB Network has over 98,000 followers on Twitter and over 350,000 likes on Facebook.
MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) has been innovative in sports since its founding in 2001. Unlike some of the other professional sports leagues who have complicated partnerships when it comes to their digital partnerships, MLBAM has developed its own streaming technology and more that is licensed even beyond the baseball world. Mary Beck, SVP of Marketing & Promotion for MLB Network gave us a detailed interview on the new social media additions to Studio 3 and the partners they worked with.
Lost Remote: Why was this studio made?
Mary Beck: During the regular season, MLB Network is live on the air for an average of 11 consecutive hours, so it’s important for our studio spaces to be versatile. When it was built in 2008, Studio 3 already contained multiple on-air locations but the addition of the new set gives us the opportunity to create and differentiate a new look for our studio shows as well as dedicate a space to the vast social media content in our programming.
LR: How will it work once the season starts up again?
MB: Our live studio programming continues year-round, and we’ve already begun using the new set and social media area in our offseason shows “Hot Stove” and “Clubhouse Confidential,” as of December 12. As we’ve already seen so far with Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Heath Bell, clubs are very active this time of year trying to sign free agents and make moves before Spring Training begins, so there’s plenty of news to discuss on-air and for our viewers to react to via social media. Once pitchers and catchers report in February, our focus will shift to previewing and gathering fan feedback on each club’s upcoming season and continue with our Spring Training series “30 Clubs in 30 Days” in March leading up to Opening Day.
LR: How will social media be incorporated into the studio? On air?
MB: Fans can be part of the discussion and chime in on all the latest Major League Baseball news and rumors leading up to the 2012 regular season. As it has done throughout 2011, MLB Network will continue to interact with viewers and post questions and display select responses on-air in each studio show – including “Hot Stove,” “Clubhouse Confidential” and “Intentional Talk” this offseason – either on the in-studio touchscreen monitor or on-screen in our social media “ticker.”
We also want to bring fans the best and newest info shared by players and media via social media, so MLB Network on-air personalities will discuss tweets on-air, whether it’s a breaking news story or a photo that a player posted from a recent vacation. During the various Jewel Events on the MLB calendar, like Spring Training, Opening Day, the All-Star Game, Trade Deadline, Postseason and Winter Meetings, we monitor hashtags to stay on top of the most talked about storylines and display tweets and stories reported on Twitter from baseball beat writers.
LR: Why the partnerships with SportsMEDIA, how does it work?
MB: SportsMEDIA Technology is well-known throughout the TV industry and provides us with a combination of engineering, scripting and real-time production assistance. Our 108-inch and 103-inch touchscreens in Studio 3 are equipped with SportsMEDIA’s GOTO Board™ (Giant On-Air Talent Operated Board) which, among other things, can act like a social media application, curating and aggregating information from different platforms and generating content and graphics that can be put on-screen automatically, mirroring the graphic look for each show. The GOTO Board can be controlled directly in-studio by our on-air personalities, as it most often is, or it can be run out of our control room, acting like a co-pilot during our studio shows.
LR: How does this fit into your business goals?
MB: Our goal is to cover all of baseball all the time and we want viewers to feel that they can come to MLB Network to see the best baseball news coverage and programming while interacting with us and voicing their opinions at the same time. Social media is an important part of our engagement with fans and it serves as an opportunity to hear instant feedback from viewers about their opinions on MLB Network programming and all things baseball-related.