VBL Extends Audience Reach with Facebook Livestreaming of Games

By Jen Kulju
Turks Staff Writer

One of the country’s oldest baseball leagues is going high-tech. The Valley Baseball League (VBL), founded in 1897, recently signed a five-year contract with Isomer Media to provide livestreaming of games over Facebook to audiences worldwide. “It’s a gigantic step forward and a fantastic opportunity for the Valley,” says Bruce Alger, VBL commissioner/president.

Isomer Media is a full-service production company led by Graham Knight, an Emmy Award-winning producer/director/editor with extensive network broadcasting experience on several major networks, including ABC, Fox, PBS and the Discovery Channel. Knight grew up playing hockey, but learned about the Winchester Royals when his son attended one of the team’s baseball camps in 2015. Knight was impressed with the camp and went on to feature the Royals in a six-part video series he produced titled “Winchester’s Best Kept Secret.” In 2017, Knight livestreamed 18 of the Royals’ games. “We had a wonderful response,” shares Knight. “We had people from as far away as the Netherlands who were watching the games.”

The majority of players in the VBL are from NCAA Division I schools, representing major sports conferences such as the AAC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Big West, SEC and Sun Belt. According to Knight, “There are a lot of people who have a vested interest in seeing what’s happening in the VBL, including parents, baseball scouts and Major League Baseball (MLB) teams.”

“Friends, families and fans have been able to hear VBL games via webcasts over the years, but now they are able to see the games,” says Alger. VBL media relations director Jimmy McCumber adds, “Livestreaming is important for the league moving forward as we’re trying to recruit players, as our players are on social media.”

Knight, who has been a self-proclaimed audiovisual geek his whole life, has seen technology change dramatically from his time as a network broadcaster. “It blows my mind that essentially with an iPad and iPhone, we can now bring almost a network quality production to viewers.” Currently, those “tuning in” on Facebook will experience a one-camera view of games with audio, graphics, and the rolling in of video. In the near future, the one-camera view will expand rapidly to a multi-camera regional sports broadcast of the games, so that “people watching on Facebook will have the same experience as those watching on ESPNU,” says Knight.

This season, Isomer Media will livestream all 42 Winchester Royals’ games, all Strasburg Express home games, and all New Market Rebels’ home games. The rest of the teams, including the Turks, will follow. “The more we get these games online for people to see, the more attractive our league becomes for players who want to play here,” declares Knight. According to Alger, “We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with Isomer Media and are doing everything we can to continue to push and grow this division. MLB is pleased with our progress.”

Below are links to Graham Knight’s six-part series he produced last year,  “Winchester’s Best Kept Secret.”  

Part 1 
Best Kept Secret

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3ADs2VCwiE

 

Part 2 
Meet The Royals

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Q900jTp_s

 

Part 3
The Valley League

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Was96QVWTNw&t=28s

Part 4
Meet The Players

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFNPAwAQofQ&t=19s

Part 5
Meet The Pros

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQR8JRgV16M

Part 6
Final Stats

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOd0lV-qjx0&t=2s