Phillies game producers eyeing creative ways to engage fans

Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers takes a selfie with a fan (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers takes a selfie with a fan (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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A New Way to Produce Games for 2020 Season

A general view of the stadium seats (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Phillies television crew will not travel with the team this season across its 30 road games that cover eight different cities and nine different opponents. There will only be one production team, the home team, in a production truck at each broadcast.

When the Phillies are the road, Halikman said they will produce the games from their production truck and broadcast booth back at Citizens Bank Park, albeit having less control over what is shown with the cameras and replays.

“If the Phillies are playing the Mets and the Mets are the away team, the broadcast crew that we work with from New York will take the feed,” Halikman said. “So, they will have less control over the broadcast, but with all the teams agreeing during this stretch where everything’s been planned out, every home team will work to make sure it is a very level broadcast for both teams. We’re going to want the same thing coming back to us when we’re the away team.”

“It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be different; no doubt, it will be different. What we’re doing is what’s considered a world feed.”

Because of only having one feed, Halikman noted that fans will see games that are “a little bit more down the middle.” Tom McCarthy, John Kruk, Gregg Murphy, and Ben Davis, among others, will still add their commentary, and Phillies graphics will still be shown. However, more might be shown of the other’s team dugout than usual.

“Maybe a little bit more storylines about the other team, just to keep it down the middle, because the other team wants to see their players, too,” Halikman  said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

The Phillies are currently slated to be shown nationally four times, twice on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and twice by FOX. Even then, the home team’s production crew will provide the feed.

The thing that will be really different, Halikman said, is that the Phillies broadcasters will be watching the game from a monitor like fans are at home.

“They can’t see the field. Now, they will have a monitor that gives them the entire field that will be fed to us from that ballpark. So, they do see when guys get a jump,” Halikman said. “We can’t show everything, as you know, with one camera. So, when we’re cutting to a ball going into the gap, Tom can see the runner who left first base and whether he’s going to try for third or try for home.”

“That will help him a little bit towards that direction of knowing what’s going on on the field. But, it will definitely be a challenge.”

On Possibility of Restrictions Loosening

Halikman is optimistic in that he thinks there will be a chance that at least some fans can attend games in person by the end of the season.

“I think it would be great, because I love the fans being there more than anything. They create that buzz that gives us that energy every night to do the game,” Halikman told Salisbury. “Until they’re there, I hope we can give them that excitement at home.”

For now, the senior producer thinks, like everything else since the middle of March, that it is a “wait and see” approach as to when some sense of normalcy can return inside the ballpark.

“We have been told this is how we’re doing things. We are spacing, social distancing in our truck to the point where, normally we have one truck [and now] we’ll be using two,” Halikman said. “We’ll have people spaced out that would do some of their jobs in one truck, now will be in another truck just to keep distance. We’re doing all kinds of things to distance.”

“The players are doing it, the coaches are doing it, the front office is doing it, [and] we’re doing it,” he added.

“We’ll have to wait and see.”