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#pounditThursday, May 19, 2022

Katie Nolan explains why she went silent during first Apple TV broadcast

Katie Nolan on a sideline

Feb 16, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; ESPN television host Katie Nolan coaches during the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Katie Nolan spoke recently about why her broadcasting debut for Apple TV went so poorly.

Nolan was a guest on the May 5 episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. She talked with Jimmy Traina about her new job as a commentator for Apple TV’s MLB broadcasts. Apple TV+ is broadcasting 24 “Friday Night Baseball” games this season. They have been doing two games each Friday night since April 8, and the schedule runs through June 24.

Nolan teams with Stephen Nelson (play-by-play) and Hunter Pence for the West Coast game. Melanie Newman (play-by-play), Chris Young and Hannah Keyser are the team for the East Coast game.

Nolan had never done analysis/commentary in a live broadcast prior to being hired by Apple, so this was a big change. During her first broadcast, a game between the Astros and Angels, Nolan went silent for the second half of the game. She admitted during her interview with Traina that the reason she went silent is because she checked what users on Twitter were saying about her and she got rattled.

Nolan’s admission came after Traina asked whether she checked Twitter during games.

“I’m going to be honest with you. Week 1 I did [check Twitter], because my goal is … listen, listen, listen, listen! What I’m there for, I can be the voice of the fan. So if something is happening that we didn’t notice, and because you know me, I’m digging through notes like crazy, if I missed something that actually would have been funny and someone’s like, hey, this is interesting–I thought that’s what I was gonna get my first week. I checked it in like the fourth or fifth inning, and then you can tell from the fifth inning on I’m silent. Because I just was in my head, I was freaked out, I was worried I was going to get fired after one shift of this gig. And since then I’ve stopped,” Nolan said.

The Apple TV MLB broadcasts have been poorly received by fans. The biggest reason is because of the lack of experience for the announcers on both broadcast teams. Nelson doesn’t have a huge play-by-play background, especially compared to many other announcers with years and hundreds of games of experience. Nolan, Pence, Young and Keyser are new in these roles.

Keyser has no experience and is equally poorly suited for the role as Nolan.

Nolan even talked with Traina about her lack of experience.

“I’m basically learning how to be in a booth while being in a booth,” Nolan said.

Nolan is hoping she will be given enough time for her style to grow on people.

“Is one season going to be enough for people to realize I’m funny and that’s kind of why I’m here?”

Nolan acknowledged that Apple has a slate of half a season of games, so she doesn’t know if that will be long enough for her to grow on fans.

The way these broadcasts were set up shows exactly how little Apple understood about MLB broadcasts and what fans want.

The people watching these games are hardcore fans of their specific teams, not general fans tuning in each week to listen to the announcers. These fans are used to watching games on their local regional TV channel, with their local announcers. It’s already a huge hassle to be forced to find the game on Apple rather than the channel they’re used to. It’s annoying to have to listen to new announcers.

So you’re already starting with fans who are annoyed just because you’ve made them jump through hoops to get to the game, and you’re not giving them the announcers they want to hear. Now you’re trying to shove new inexperienced announcers down their throat as part of an experiment? That’s the last thing these fans want.

If Apple wants better reception for their broadcasts, they should stick to just a traditional, experienced play-by-play and commentator who just call the game and don’t try to do too much. Apple is doing the exact opposite, doing too much, and using inexperienced broadcasters like Nolan and Keyser, who have never broadcast games before. It’s a recipe for disaster and just a poorly conceived and constructed idea. They really did themselves and their announcers no favors by sticking them in roles for which they were poorly suited. In Nolan’s case, she’s always been a very strong broadcaster when it comes to scripted material. Unscripted formats, like calling a live game, are totally different, and have even resulted in Nolan shutting down like she did in her first game.

H/T Awful Announcing

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