Sports | April 10, 2018 1:27 pm

Does ESPN’s K-Zone Ruin Baseball on TV?

Maybe, but that hasn’t stopped Fox, YES and others from using their own versions.

A shot of the MLB K-Zone on ESPN. (ESPN)
A shot of the MLB K-Zone on ESPN. (ESPN)

Some may do it because of the pace of play. Others, the length of games. And there might be a few folks who tune out from watching MLB games on television for another reason: the K-Zone.

Since 2011, ESPN’s K-Zone – a superimposed square that displays a non-official strike zone based on input from three tracking cameras – has been visible during the majority of the network’s broadcasts.

“We are absolutely, unequivocally committing to K-Zone live on every game for every pitch of the season,” said then-ESPN coordinating producer Phil Orlins in 2015. “We have had it over the plate for a batter here or there or even a full game in some cases, but we have never made this kind of commitment. We are always looking for new ways to differentiate our broadcast, and we think this is essential in doing that.”

Differentiate the broadcast – yes. Make it better for the viewer – not quite.

The main problem with the four-sided virtual graphic is it obstructs what the viewer can see and isn’t really all that accurate about what constitutes a strike as an umpire still makes the final call.

“The square is supposed to be akin to the NFL first-down marker, which was a great invention that enhanced the viewer experience and provided objective, important information while staying out of the way of the action,” according to The New York Post. “The square does not do that.”

Despite that, a version of the K-Zone has popped up on Fox, YES and the Fox-owned regional networks this season.