BattleBots commentator Chris Rose previews the new season

Chris Rose stars in Discovery's BattleBots. Photo Credit: Dan Longmire/Courtesy of Discovery.
Chris Rose stars in Discovery's BattleBots. Photo Credit: Dan Longmire/Courtesy of Discovery. /

BattleBots season 9 begins tonight, and Chris Rose explains to Hidden Remote how he brings a sports influence into the world of robot fighting.

Chris Rose has seen some of the biggest sporting events, thanks to his work with NFL Network and MLB Network. But his job as a commentator on Discovery‘s BattleBots isn’t as far away from those as you might think.

He’ll be back in the booth for BattleBots season 9, which kicks off tonight with more competitive robot carnage. But first, Chris took time out of his schedule to talk about how there’s a significant sports influence on the show, and getting past people’s preconceptions about robot fighting.

Meet Chris Rose and learn more in our interview below, then be sure to tune into the BattleBots premiere tonight at 8 p.m. on Discovery. The new season will also be available on Science Channel beginning June 12.

Hidden Remote: You’re well-known for your MLB and NFL work. So what made you want to take time away from that to commentate on robots fighting?

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Chris Rose: I didn’t know about BattleBots at all until [Discovery revived the show in] 2015…I’m very fortunate. I’ve got two great jobs at MLB Network and NFL Network, so any sort of project I do outside of there, I’ve got to make sure it’s for the right reasons.

To me, it’s not a real Hollywood feel, which I love. I come from the sports world, where we come together, do events, check your ego at the door and do the best you can and you keep moving. We don’t have any time for any BS. From the first minute I met [executive producers] Chris Cowan and Aaron Cathling, I was like these are just regular dudes and it’s going to be great. The energy they brought to the project from the very beginning just made me speak to my agent, and I was like I want to do this.

It’s very much like a sporting event; that’s what they wanted to turn it into. And it’s unlike anything you’ve ever been to. It’s loud, the energy is off the charts. I love the energy that Battlebots provides. It’s like being at an NFL game or a college football game. There’s that much fun.

HR: Is there anything from your NFL or MLB broadcasting experience that you’ve been able to apply to this show?

CR: I think it’s really helpful, and I don’t think there’s any mistake that three out of the four on-air people that you see, between Kenny Florian, [sideline reporter] Jenny Taft and myself, and [announcer] Faruq Tauheed’s a big sports fan. He comes from a little different universe than we do, but we are sports people. We’re used to having an event, telling a story, talking about strategy and all that, and that’s really important to be able to help the viewer understand whats going on.

HR: Do you break down a BattleBots match like you would a football or a baseball game? Or how do you approach it compared to those games?

CR: Yeah. I think the important thing is at the end of the day, they’re 250-pound robots fighting each other. It’s not the Super Bowl. It’s not the World Series. It’s important to these people. But funny stuff happens—like there’s malfunctions, these people dress up in costumes, they dress up their robots sometimes before the fight. They want them to have personality.

So there’s a real balance between presenting it with the importance that it deserves, in terms [of] these are people that are volunteering their own time and money and effort and love into a passion project, but also realizing these things are huge can openers who are chopping each other up. You don’t ever make fun of the bot builders, but you can make fun of what’s happened to the bots. If you’re not going to treat it light-heartedly at times, then that doesn’t make good theater. I think we’re always searching for that balance.

Chris Rose (left) and Kenny Florian in the commentator’s booth of Discovery’s BattleBots. Photo Credit: Dan Longmire/Courtesy of Discovery. /

HR: Your on-air partners have big personalities. Who’s more high-energy, Kenny Florian on BattleBots or Kevin Millar on Intentional Talk?

CR: Kevin is one of a kind. Probably the number one question I get asked is about Kevin—what’s he like off camera? Kind of what you see is what you get. I would say that Kevin’s got four kids and his wife’s got five, because he’s this 47-year-old guy who’s all over the place, great energy, really fun

Kenny, I love how smart he is. When we started this thing, we entered kind of a foreign world if you will. We didn’t know anything about these robots, we didn’t know about how to build them, what the idea was, what a vertical spinner does, what a horizontal spinnerdoes. [Kenny is] not only able to digest the information, he’s able to spit it out to the viewers so they can understand at home even if they don’t have an engineering degree. His skill set is off the charts to me.

HR: Are there any other sports personalities that you’d like to see join you on BattleBots?

CR: I have discussed BattleBots with several baseball players, including [Cleveland Indians pitcher] Trevor Bauer. He’s a real techie. He loves BattleBots; if it wasn’t for the baseball season he would come to a taping in a second and would love to build a BattleBot. There’s guys that just love it. There’s been a couple of retired baseball players who have brought their kids in, just because they really enjoy it. It’s nice to see.

You can have an athletic side and that’s really important, but this is the sort of place you need a team as well. It just utilizes a different part of your brain and talent, and it doesn’t mean they have to be mutually exclusive. You can be a great athlete and love the world we’re immersed in with BattleBots as well.

HR: That’s an important point. As you said, this show is really its own sport and is treated like one. What would you say to people who either haven’t discovered it yet or might be skeptical of BattleBots?

CR: I think obviously there’s that stereotype—like oh okay, it’s robots fighting, I don’t get it. It’s okay that you don’t get it. But it’s one of the few shows I think you can sit down with the entire family [and watch]. It sounds kind of cheesy in the world we live in today, but you can sit down with any age person and they could love it.

They could love it for different reasons. Some people are like that’s awesome, I want to build that. We had a competitor this year named Ricky Williams, who was in our BattleBots audience last year. He was like I’m going to build a robot and be here next year and guess what? He ended up building the biggest robot in the history of BattleBots.

Then there’s other people that just want to tune in because they want to see, for a lack of better term, s–t blown up, and that’s cool too. We have that gene where it’s cool to see things catch on fire or thrown 20 feet in the air, but if that happens to a human, that’s no bueno. We don’t want that to happen. If it happens to a piece of 250-pound metal, we’re okay with that, as long as no one gets hurt. And it doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. It’s just a pleasure.

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BattleBots premieres Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery, and will also air on Science Channel starting June 12. For more on this and other Discovery shows, follow the Discovery category at Hidden Remote.