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- 2015 MLB Season Begins Exclusively on ESPN2 April 5, Opening Day Quadruple Header April 6
- Newly Designed K-Zone Live for Every Pitch of Every Game, Plus K-Zone 3D
The 2015 Major League Baseball season begins exclusively on ESPN with its MLB Opening Night telecast presented by Scotts – St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs – on Sunday, April 5, at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2). Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet kicks things off at 7 p.m. with its on-site pre-game show. ESPN will then air 12 hours of continuous Opening Day action on Monday, April 6 with a quadruple header. Matchups and commentator assignments are available at ESPN Media Zone. Additionally, ESPN will usher in a full array of new production and programming initiatives in 2015.
K-Zone Live for every pitch of every game, K-Zone 3D: (About K-Zone at ESPN Front Row) In 2015, ESPN is ushering in a sleeker design of its revolutionary K-Zone Live technology, which will now document every pitch of every MLB game on ESPN, beginning with Opening Night. K-Zone Live was created in 2011 and is an on-screen graphic calibrated for each batter to calculate the location of every ball that crosses the hitter’s strike zone. Additionally, K-Zone 3D, a replay version of the technology, will be used during several Sunday Night Baseball telecasts and will provide a multi-dimensional look from unique vantage points on the sides of the plate and behind the plate.
Baseball Tonight’s new approach: ESPN’s flagship Major League Baseball studio show Baseball Tonight will have a new approach this season. The nightly shows (generally airing at 10 p.m. and midnight) will be more active, more unpredictable and less structured. Commentators will utilize the Baseball Tonight studio space with an increased number of demos and touch-screen segments, a more casual, free-flowing discussion amongst commentators and a modified Baseball Tonight set desk. Karl Ravech, Adnan Virk, Hakem Dermish and Jon Sciambi will serve as hosts throughout the season.
The Shift: For select Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts, ESPN will strategically position five commentators – a play-by-play commentator and four analysts – in different parts of a stadium. Each analyst will be tasked with providing a different perspective from their vantage point. For instance, ESPN MLB analyst Doug Glanville may be positioned near a dugout to provide a hitter’s perspective for the telecast, while ESPN MLB analyst Mark Mulder is positioned behind the bullpen to provide a pitcher’s perspective.
Sundays from the Seats: ESPN has selected four consecutive Sundays, beginning July 12, for the Sunday Night Baseball crew to call games from outside of the traditional commentator booth. They’ll be strategically positioned at popular locations inside of each stadium to showcase the unique vantage point and provide some local flavor to the telecast. ESPN will begin this initiative in Pittsburgh at PNC Park on July 12, for the Pirates-Cardinals game. More details will be available in the coming weeks.
Baseball Tonight pre-game Mondays and Wednesdays: ESPN2 will televise a new set of Baseball Tonight episodes prior to Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball weekly telecasts in the first half of the season. The shows will air at 5:30 p.m., beginning on Wednesday, April 8, and will capture the atmosphere and action from inside the ball park, during batting practice, and prior to the first pitch. Baseball Tonight pre-game shows will include fantasy and daily fantasy elements, as well as interviews with players, coaches and other team personnel.
Three-person booths on Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball & Wednesday Night Baseball: ESPN has committed to the three-person commentator booth – a play-by-play voice, plus a pitching analyst and batting analyst – on all regular game windows in 2015 to provide diversity of perspective and an added element of unpredictability:
- Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell: Dan Shulman, Curt Schilling, John Kruk with Buster Olney reporting;
- Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA: Dave O’Brien, Aaron Boone, Mark Mulder (first half of season) and Dallas Braden (second half of season);
- Wednesday Night Baseball: Jon Sciambi, Rick Sutcliffe, Doug Glanville.
Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown on-site pre-game and new crew: ESPN’s signature edition of Baseball Tonight – Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet – will have a new commentator team in 2015. Karl Ravech, the face of ESPN’s MLB studio coverage, will continue to host the show with analyst Aaron Boone and reporter Tim Kurkjian. The trio will provide news and analysis and preview the Sunday Night Baseball telecast each week. Once again, ESPN is taking Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown on the road for live, on-site Sunday Night Baseball pre-game shows for several dates during the year.
The Global Game: For five games during the 2015 MLB season, ESPN will focus on the sport’s cultural impact and its rapid global growth. The telecasts will include special guests, vignettes and music highlighting different parts of the world and will what baseball means to that region. More details will be provided in the coming weeks.