The Baltimore Ravens are much more than a football team.
Football is at the center of everything, but as the interest in the NFL has grown and technology has advanced, teams have also taken on a larger role in directly connecting and communicating with their fans. Through digital media and broadcasting, in many ways, the Ravens have become a publisher and media outlet of their own. The Ravens have a website, smartphone app, iPad app, social media accounts across multiple platforms and television shows that are all produced in-house.
These channels reach millions of people across the world, and this is the team that makes it happen:
Michelle Andres, joined Ravens in 2006
Jay O’Brien, joined Ravens in 2004
Sarah Ellison, joined Ravens in 2005
Matt Brevet, joined Ravens in 2005
Dave Lang, joined Ravens in 2007
Eddie Coughlan, joined Ravens in 2008
Ryan Mink, joined Ravens in 2009
Philip Cunningham, joined Ravens in 2010
John Eisenberg, joined Ravens in 2010
Garrett Downing, joined Ravens in 2011
Erin Herbert, joined Ravens in 2011
Cody Williams, joined Ravens in 2012
Becca Kany, joined Ravens in 2013
Jessie Knaak, joined Ravens in 2014
Brittany Jorge, joined Ravens in 2015
Television broadcasts in the preseason are produced in-house rather than by national networks, and that is a massive undertaking for the Ravens’ broadcast team. They gather material for those broadcasts throughout the offseason and into training camp, sometimes even traveling the world to locations like Germany and Hawaii to produce interesting features on players off the field.
When gameday arrives, the broadcast team grows from six full-time employees to 45 additional freelancers required to produce the game. That includes staff like videographers, directors, producers, audio technicians and satellite truck operators. The Ravens have nine camera feeds at their disposal during a game, and “our goal is that you can’t tell the difference between our broadcast and a national broadcast,” O’Brien said.
The media department brings an all-hands-on-deck approach to gameday. Every single game – even in the preseason – is a major event that attracts a massive audience. The website and apps attract hundreds of thousands of people and the Ravens also have millions of social media followers tuned into those platforms. Every article, video highlight, interview, tweet, Instagram photo and Facebook post come from this team of people who are spread throughout the stadium.
The gameday experience is a top priority for the Ravens, and some of the responsibility falls on the broadcast crew to make sure fans are entertained and that the team has strong home-field advantage. The broadcast crew produces the content for the Ravens Vision video boards, including pump-up clips and in-game replays.
In-stadium replays can bolster the Ravens’ home-field advantage. The control room has seven cameras angles to use when pulling up a replay, and the broadcast team works to give Head Coach John Harbaugh every possible view so he knows when to challenge a controversial call.
“When Coach Harbaugh throws a challenge flag after seeing one of our replays – and wins that challenge – it gets pretty loud in the control room,” O’Brien said. “That’s our small way of feeling like we’re a part of the team and you affected the game.”
Just like the players and coaches quickly move on to their next assignment after a game, the Ravens’ media team jumps into its own version of game planning every Monday morning. The group decides which articles to write, videos to produce, who to interview, how to structure the television shows, who to mic up during the next game and what’s hot on social media. They keep a close eye on analytics to determine what the fans want, and they have the pulse of what’s buzzing online.
Once they come up with the strategy for that week, they get to work putting the plan into motion.
The writing team is constantly coming up with content. The mantra in the media department is to be “All Things Ravens,” and that includes covering the team through every possible angle. Stories range from hard news about transactions and injuries, to casual content like an article about a fan who takes off his shirt in the upper deck to fire up the crowd. The team of four writers wrote about 1,700 articles in 2015.
The Ravens produce three in-house television shows (Ravens Report, Ravens Unscripted and Ravens Wired) during the regular season. These 30-minute shows aired locally on FOX 45 last year and were also posted online in their entirety.
Each show has its own flavor. “Ravens Report” previews the upcoming game with former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott as co-host with WUSA’s Kristen Berset. “Wired” is an all-access pass that looks back on the previous game, featuring exclusive material like mic’d-up players, conversations on the bench and locker room speeches. “Unscripted” is a debate and analysis show where host Evan Washburn is joined by Downing, Mink and a weekly guest to break down biggest topics surrounding the team.
The quality of the broadcast team’s production has been nationally recognized, as the group has won 19 Emmy Awards.
In addition to putting together the television programs, the broadcast team is responsible for every piece of video that lands on the website and the apps. They also regularly cut highlight packages that Coach Harbaugh shows to the team in meetings the night before games.
The media team doesn’t travel lightly for road games. Typically 10 in-house media staffers travel on the team plane, and they also bring in additional local freelance help on gameday. That crew is needed to get video, mic-up pads, take photos, write stories and conduct interviews for digital and television platforms.
They go wherever the Ravens go, and they bring all of that material to fans’ fingertips.