MLB Network is paying tribute to two figures from baseball's storied past with studios in its home dugout.
The service — slated to bow in some 50 million homes as the largest launch in cable history when it throws out its first pitch on Jan. 1 — unveiled Studio 42 and Studio 3 in honor of Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth last Friday. Every video display in both studios will be fully native high-definition, as will all video produced at the studios.
Both studios will be put into play during the network's live programming, notably its signature show, MLB Tonight, scheduled to air live Mondays through Saturdays, beginning at 6 p.m. (ET) until the final game ends that night. The program will feature live look-ins of games in progress, updates, highlights, reporting and analysis.
Measuring 5,600 square feet, Studio 3 houses 62 video displays, including a 30-foot-by-7-foot rear projection screen, 108-inch and 103-inch monitors, as well as a touch-screen display that will enable network talent to interact with and change graphics and images on-screen. The studio will feature a desk that can rotate to various stations and includes six areas, including a balcony, stat center and interview settings. The ceiling is ringed by backlit logos of all 30 MLB teams and the entire studio features lighting that can be altered to give it the feel of day or night.
Studio 42, at 15,200 square feet, is designed to mimic a baseball field, featuring a half-scale infield made of FieldTurf, measuring 45 feet from base to base and a pitcher's mound 30 feet from home plate that can be modified for more realistic demonstrations from MLB Network's on-air team, including former big-leaguers Al Leiter, Joe Magrane and Harold Reynolds.
Studio 42 also sports a replica outfield wall, replete with padding, brick designs and three different seating areas that can hold up to 173 people. There's also a 300-inch out-of-town scoreboard loosely modeled after the module at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia that will be updated in real-time.
“Our studios are designed first and foremost to be versatile, since we're doing so many hours of live programming each night,” said MLB Network CEO Tony Petitti. “But we also wanted to make sure they were visually appealing and featured the very best in technology. We're confident we've succeeded in all three areas, and that our viewers will enjoy what we can do in these studios.”
In addition to MLB Tonight, the service — which is owned in part by DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications — will air Hot Stove weeknights at 7 p.m. during the off-season, featuring news, reports and analysis of the moves clubs are making for the upcoming season.
MLB Network has yet to finalize its 26-game schedule for 2009, but contests figure to air principally in primetime on Thursdays, with some live games on Saturday nights.