MASN to drop Orioles, Nationals TV broadcaster travel ban starting Tuesday: Sources

Beginning Tuesday night in New York, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is lifting its ban on TV announcers traveling, according to multiple sources.

MASN announcers Kevin Brown and Jim Palmer will be on-site at Yankee Stadium for the entire three-game series between the Orioles and New York Yankees, marking the first time since 2019 that any Orioles broadcasters have been on the road.

The change is expected to hold for the remainder of the season, according to sources. One source said the ban has also been lifted for MASN’s Washington Nationals broadcasts. That could become effective as early as Friday, when the Nationals head to San Francisco to play the Giants.

MASN, the regional sports network that is majority-owned by the Orioles but airs all 162 Orioles and Nationals games each season, is the only network that has not yet sent its broadcasters on the road, choosing instead to use remote technology from Camden Yards and Nationals Park. The Los Angeles Angels also began the season without their broadcast talent traveling but changed course last week and sent their TV announcers to Houston for a three-game series on April 18-20. They are expected to travel to at least the next two road series, per a source.

According to sources, the Orioles Radio Network talent will remain grounded, with all of their broadcasts coming from Camden Yards. The Orioles are the only team in baseball that has not had TV and radio talent travel in 2022; the Nationals’ radio broadcasters are team employees and have traveled since the start of the season.

In 2020, no clubs traveled their broadcast teams during the pandemic-shortened season, as part of the Major League Baseball protocol. Some teams slowly started to do it again in 2021, with near full participation in 2022.

MASN, however, sent out a memo to employees in March stating there would be no travel to start the season out of an “abundance of caution due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.”

The sense in the industry, however, is the Orioles felt they had the proper technology to continue the remote broadcasts, contracting trucks and camera personnel in visiting cities while directing and producing the games on-site at the ballparks in Baltimore and Washington – which, of course, would mean significant financial savings for the Orioles and MASN.

Technical difficulties, however, weakened the product almost immediately. During the current trip that started in Oakland and continued on to Anaheim, there were several obvious deficiencies with the broadcasts, from on-air delays to echoes in headsets to the audio and video not syncing during games and pre- and postgame shows.

Ultimately, sources said, those problems led to dropping the travel ban.

The Athletic‘s Sam Blum contributed to this report.

04.30 Photo of Jim Palmer: Norm Hall / Getty Images

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