The Bethesda Big Train continued to improve an already fantastic organization by creating and implementing a brand new broadcast system and network for the 2023 season.
The Big Train Baseball Network raised the bar this past season in the Ripken League, and set a foundation for growth for years to come. Harrison Meyers, the Director of Broadcasting, created the setup, and worked with broadcasters Adam Glover, Eli Kleinmann, and sideline reporter Cailey Thalman to call the first season of games on the new network.
In years past, the quality of broadcasts has fluctuated, and every seasonal broadcaster has broadcasted their own specific way. The implementation of a network allowed for each broadcast to be consistent and of a higher quality. This consistency paid off in a big way as the newly formed Big Train Baseball Network had a record breaking year, with more than 25,000 total views and six 1,000 view games, including five in a row during the teams miraculous run to their 10th Ripken League Championship. The Big Train’s LCS Semi-Final game against the Cropdusters on July 25th, broke records with over 1,900 viewers, trouncing the previous high by hundreds of views. The Big Train’s LCS Finals game against the Aces on July 26th, was the first radio broadcast to eclipse 1,000 listeners.
The Big Train Baseball Network’s achievements go far beyond viewership numbers. The overall goal was to improve the production side of the broadcasts. By the end of the season, the broadcasts featured six to eight camera angles, as well as commercial break music and packages. Experimentation with live hits down to field level also occurred throughout the season, and most games featured multiple on-field interviews.
The new set up also allowed the network to take the cameras on the road for the first time. The small but capable set up allowed for radio broadcasts of every road game, and TV was brought to Waldorf, MD, for the network's first road TV broadcast. While the cameras were left at Shirley Povich Field, the radio broadcast went from car, to bus, to ferry as the Big Train went barnstorming through the New England Collegiate Baseball League as the Network brought all the action from the road trip to the fans back home live as it happened.
The small set up made it easier for the network to broadcast in settings where there were challenges. Shirley Povich Field was the only location where Glover and Kleinmann had a broadcast booth, meaning every road game the set up would slightly different to account for the challenges of each field. In many locations the Big Train staff had to bring tents, tables, and chairs, as broadcast for road games would take place outside. For example at Blair Stadium, the home of the Silver Spring - Takoma Thunderbolts, the broadcast was set up underneath the bleachers, as there was no room for it in the press box.
However, these were not the only trial and tribulations the network would have to overcome. The first week of broadcasts featured some audio issues that made voices sound unclear. The broadcast was initially produced with BlueFrame Production Truck, a common software used by many different colleges. Meyers, after testing out his equipment and changing computers, decided to upgrade the production again. For the second half of the season, broadcasts were produced with vMix. The broadcasts were of a higher quality than with Production Truck, and Meyers created new graphics for the games even going so far as to at times edit them during the game to correct an issue and provide the highest quality broadcast possible.
Meyers also worked closely with on-field reporter Cailey Thalman, to create pre and post game shows to be featured on both the broadcast and social media. Daily interviews let fans understand what was going on behind the scenes, and helped build relationships between the players and broadcasters.
On the new networks success, Meyers said “this year proved that we can do a lot with a little when it comes to the broadcast. Next year we're looking to add sponsors and a coaches show into the mix. People should come back because it's going to be a really special show unlike anything you can find in summer ball.”
You can find the Big Train Baseball Network on Youtube by clicking here. Make sure to subscribe to rewatch the action from 2023 and be ready for the 2024 season kicking off in June. For broadcasting and sponsorship opportunities please contact Harrison Meyers directly at Harrison@BigTrain.org
Follow the Big Train online on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at “GoBigTrain”
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