1. Archive


The bright box behind home plate is blank at Tropicana but full of ads on TV.
Published Oct. 23, 2008

If you're one of the lucky people who get inside Tropicana Field for the World Series, you'll likely notice a bright green rectangle on the wall behind home plate.

Don't adjust your vision. It's meant to be that way.

Millions of fans watching on Fox won't see a green box but advertisements for General Motors, Fox's 24 and a handful of restaurants.

The screen is one of the new pieces of technology that comes with a national - and now global - audience.

Fox, which along with TBS paid more than $3-billion for the rights to broadcast the playoffs and the World Series, uses the green-screen technology to blast more ads to the viewers watching at home.

The technology works kind of like the TV weather map, where graphics are beamed from a computer onto the blank wall and displayed on the television feed. (TV viewers might notice the actual screen during replays or when FOX changes its camera angle).

For advertisers, the home plate location is some of the best face time with customers since the ad is unavoidable during the game, said Lou D'Ermilio, a Fox Sports spokesman. The space is reserved for advertisers who buy commercials, which cost about $400,000 for a 30-second spot.

During the regular season, the Rays collect revenue from a manual sign behind home plate that rotates every half-inning or inning. But for the postseason, it's Fox's money to be made.

Team president Matt Silverman said the Rays prefer a manual sign that rotates every half-inning because fans watching in Boston or New York or Japan see the Rays' advertising.

In fact, Silverman said, advertisers from Japan are buying home plate advertising in St. Petersburg.

If it were a green screen, TV stations in Boston or New York or Tokyo could sell their own ads for the Rays' home games.