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A look at Cloud Control and how Marquee Sports Network produces road games from Wrigley

2 years agoRashad Alexander

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot about how society approaches remote work, including the TV production side. Before 2020, the Cubs would have their production team at whichever away field they’re at to broadcast their road games on TV, but thanks to a new innovative Cloud Control technology, crews are now able to work remotely while ensuring broadcasters can still travel to all games.

When the 2020 baseball season started after a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball instilled more restrictions on the number of production crew members a team can bring on the road. Because of this, production crews had to use a Cloud Control system that wasn’t expected to be used for years to come.

The Cloud Control system gives production crews the ability to broadcast sports teams away games without having to be on site to do so. The system essentially allows production to be done anywhere.

“You don’t have to spend the money to send all your people out on site. Because that’s a lot of wear and tear on people, it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of moving parts, flights get canceled,” said Mike Fox, the TV director for the Cubs game broadcasts. “When 2020 hit, with COVID, it accelerated that technology.”

According to Fox, there are two ways that a broadcast can be done remotely with Cloud Control.

“If you have five cameras, you take all five camera feeds to you, and you can manipulate them back in a production venue, away from site. The second way of doing remote production is you leave all the signals there (on site) and monitor those signals, as well as communication.”

While the transition to Cloud Control looks like it makes producers’ lives easier on the surface, Fox admits that there’s certain aspects to his job that have changed due to the implementation of Cloud Control.

“We’re finding ways to build that same sort of camaraderie and teamwork remotely, which is difficult,” said Fox, who acknowledges certain growing pains with the new technology and working remotely. “But I do believe in it … and I believe that the quality of the product will only get better.”

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Alongside Mike Fox in the control room is another Mike, Mike Leary, who is the lead producer for the Cubs broadcasts. Leary’s production career has extended over 20 years. And yet, he never imagined being able to broadcast games from somewhere that wasn’t the actual stadium.

“You look at the last few World Series and Super Bowls, because of Covid, people were running replay machines from their basement of their house,” said Leary. “That’s amazing. I never thought that would be possible ten years ago.”

Bally Sports Regional Networks, a partner of Marquee Sports Network, first launched Cloud Control technology with Bally Sports North for the Minnesota Twins back in June of 2021. The following month, Marquee would follow.

“I think we got a good handle of it early on. I think we’ve had the most experience with it of any other region,” said Leary.

Like Fox, Leary also had to adjust to not being at the away team’s ballpark with the rest of the production team.

“When you’re in a room with people, you can inspire them, you can get them ramped up and get them excited. So now I’m trying to figure out ways to motivate people on the headset, where I can’t see them,” said Leary.

But despite these changes for Leary and Fox, utilizing Cloud Control is necessary for the broadcast world we live in today, according to Debby Schneider, Marquee’s Senior Vice President of Broadcast Operations.

“I think Cloud Control helped us be able to socially distance people and create a safer environment for people that were forced to be in an enclosed space for a long period of  time,” said Schneider.

Schneider also praised both Leary and Fox and the rest of the broadcast team for being able to adapt to this new technology that came their way.

“Both of them are technically savvy and were able to make the switch to the remote production environment that what was being thrown at them,” said Schneider. “I think we are incredibly lucky to have the production team that we do have.”

One of the most important benefits of Cloud Control according to Schneider includes the reduction of constant travel for production crews, which gives them a break both mentally and physically.

“Traveling to and from different markets all season long takes its toll on people. I think that this is a good solution,” said Schneider

As Schneider, Fox and Leary have explained, the Cloud Control system allows games to be produced in a safe and less straining manner, while giving Cubs fans the same great experience they have watching the Cubs play on the road.

Rashad Alexander is an author for Marquee Sports Network. To learn more about Cloud Control technology at Bally Sports RSN’s, visit here.

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