World Series: Fox Sports Tech Chief Talks Game 1 Power Outage and New Precautions
"We're pretty much in the clear from here on in."
If the audience was frustrated by Tuesday night's Fox Sports power outage that halted Game 1 of the World Series for roughly seven minutes, it can be assumed that the reaction behind the scenes leaned more towards panic.
"It was a terrifying moment," Fox Sports tech guru Michael Davies tells The Hollywood Reporter. "When you're sitting in the truck, and everything is going fine, the last thing you expect is for the lights to go out."
The executive vp field and technical operations, speaking just a few hours before the first pitch of Game 2, had found his sense of humor about the blackout by Wednesday — likely because his team is all-but-assured that the freak accident won't repeat itself. The first was unlikely enough on its own. Both the primary and backup generator inside the Fox Sports production compound simultaneously lost power, prompting a halt in gameplay before the network was able to temporarily switch over to the MLB International feed before their own was restored.
Why the twin-pack failed is still unclear. The same one had been used throughout the League Championship Series and some Division Series, but the rental company has a forensic team investigating to see whether it was an electronics issue or, less likely, a problem with the fuel. As for the Wednesday plan, Fox Sports rerouted generators that were heading to a college football game for the weekend to Kansas City.
"Of the tens of thousands of hours of of baseball, golf, football and even the Super Bowl that we've aired, this is the first one we've lost or seen interrupted," says Davies. "These machines are built painstakingly. We're pretty much in the clear from here on in."
With or without the snafu, those 14 innings made the Royals victory over the Mets the longest Game 1 in World Series history — not that it fatigued audiences. Despite the incredibly late run-time, both the New York and Kansas City markets retained most of their audience until the game wrapped around 1 a.m. ET. (Both markets, including the record-setting tune-in in KC, peaked between 11 and 11:30 p.m. ET.) All told, it was the most-watched start to the World Series since 2009, with an average tune-in of 14.9 million viewers.
And while many will remember the game for its length, coverage interruptions like the one seen last night aren't exactly easy to erase from the public memory. The 2013 Super Bowl, which aired on CBS, is perhaps most memorable for the 34-minute stretch when the lights went out in the stadium, not in the production compound, and over 100 million watched the dark confusion. The scenario at Game 1 wasn't nearly as dire, but Davies seems sure it's already a cautionary tale for competitors.
"Most networks are probably pretty happy that this didn't happen to them, but they'll pretend that it did," adds Davies. "An incident like this will have ripple effects in the industry in terms of reviewing power plans."