Here’s a lesson for budding sports television directors and producers: Always keep the cameras rolling, even when your on-air talent is off the air.
Last week Fox Sports posted a 6-minute-and-26-second video of Pete Rose giving hitting instructions (and telling batting stories) to fellow MLB studio analysts Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas. It’s remarkable to eavesdrop on three hitters with a combined 9,939 hits, and Fox Sports was rewarded with unheard-of social metrics for a studio show clip. The video recently passed 10.8 million views on Facebook and 143,000 shares.
How did this happen?
Fox Sports vice president of production Bardia Shah-Rais said the control room makes it a point of recording everything its MLB analysts do on set. As the studio group was taping bump shots to use as game breaks during the National League Championship series (e.g. host Kevin Burkhardt telling viewers what will be coming up after the game), the control room kept the cameras on Rose, Rodriguez and Thomas. The plan was to do a 15-second bump shot, but once the 15 seconds were finished, Rodriguez kept asking Rose questions. So director David Faller kept the tape rolling it in the control room.
“No one in the control room said a word until it naturally ended and what we realized was we were literally eavesdropping in on three of the greatest hitters of alltime talking about the techniques of hitting, how you approach different pitchers, how you step in the box,” said Shah-Rais. “It kind of just happened. Where we got lucky is that we always roll on what these guys say because you never know if there will be a moment like that.”
After they taped the footage, Shah-Rais sent the clip to the Fox Sports’s digital and social media departments. Social media producer Jason Dovitz, who regularly posts MLB video for Fox Sports, recognized the potential of the clip and got the video on his company’s social media channels quickly. The producers also asked Rodriguez and Thomas to send it out on their social media feeds. They promoted the video on the postgame show, and then social media took over.
Shah-Rais said Rodriguez and Thomas asked him in the days afterward what was so special about the video given they often talk hitting among themselves in the green room.
“I told them people will pay thousands of dollars to sit in a room and hear you guys do that,” Shah-Rais said. “They took people behind the curtain. To them it’s natural, but to a schmo like me, it’s a groundbreaking moment about what makes them so good at their craft. We just stumbled up on it. It’s fascinating that so many people found it and I’m grateful. It just gives us more of a reason to make sure we are rolling (taping) on everything.”