HOUSTON — In just a few hours, ESPN’s commitment to its Major League Baseball coverage will be on full display as the network’s 24th MLB season begins.
Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, ESPN will televise exclusively MLB Opening Night — the Texas Rangers at the Houston Astros — in Houston’s historic American League debut.
Since 1990, ESPN has provided comprehensive coverage of America’s pastime that has changed the way viewers and fans watch the sport. From K-Zone to innovative use of cameras to the recent advent of new-age sabermetrics and statistical analysis, the network has helped drive the sport forward.
Hours before #OpeningNight, Front Row had the opportunity to catch up with one of the driving forces behind ESPN’s MLB coverage, Vice President of Production, Mike McQuade.
What sets ESPN’s MLB coverage apart?
It’s several things, but most importantly, we are committed to telling the best story to our viewers and baseball fans, all the time. In order to do that, we play to our strengths and we don’t have to over-produce. We have the deepest roster of MLB commentators in the business. From our MLB Insiders to our studio hosts and play-by-play commentators to our analysts. Dan Shulman, Karl Ravech, John Kruk, Curt Schilling, Buster Olney, Orel Hershiser, Barry Larkin and the list goes on and on.
There’s also a whole slew of people behind the scenes across departments working hard around the clock to tell the MLB story every day and night, 24/7/365. We never lose sight of our goal, which is to inform and to entertain. We also understand there are different types of baseball fans, looking for a wide variety of information. Traditionalists, would-be sabermetricians fantasy baseball fans, etc. We’re serving each one of these types of fans during our telecasts and on digital platforms.
How is ESPN evolving its MLB coverage in its 24th season?
We’re always looking to improve. That’s how you stay sharp and stay ahead. We’ve added John Kruk to our Sunday Night Baseball booth and fans will find out just what a brilliant mind he has for the game. We have a new philosophy on Wednesday Night Baseball, where we will be rotating analysts into the booth when they have a unique tie to the game.
We’re expanding our Baseball Tonight brand with the addition of Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney podcast. We’ve unified our Twitter handles to @BBTN which will help foster more social media interaction and fan engagement.
We’re also doing more and more digital Baseball Tonights. We’ve brought in [analysts] Manny Acta and Alex Cora to help serve English and Spanish-speaking audiences across platforms. As has been the case since 1990, there is plenty more to come.