SBD/January 31, 2014/Media

Fox To Show Off Technological Novelties During Super Bowl XLVIII Broadcast

Fox will use wind indicator as part of its Super Bowl broadcast
Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks on Thursday discussed the net's Super Bowl XLVIII "production toys," including "a wind simulator, software that will be able to show the breezy patterns (in yellow trails that look a little like fast-moving ghosts) inside MetLife Stadium," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. There also will be an infrared camera that "will detect, in colors from white to dark blue, how hot or cold the players are," and "if necessary, a graphic technology that can, as Shanks said, 'extend the goal posts to infinity.'" Shanks said that Fox was "prepared for the sort of blackout that befell last year’s Super Bowl; its broadcast will be powered by a generator and is off the Meadowlands electrical grid." Shanks: "We’re prepared for a whiteout and we’re prepared for a blackout." Sandomir notes Fox News correspondents "will be available if serious news breaks." Meanwhile, Shanks said that even with 52 cameras being used, Fox "will not isolate one continuously" on Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). BROADCASTING & CABLE’s George Winslow wrote the “biggest tech changes” for the game will be the “scale of the production that Fox Sports is putting together, with coverage of various events from multiple venues on a slew of channels.” Fox Sports Senior VP Jerry Steinberg said, “Because we are programming for multiple channels, the scope of this thing is huge.” The game will air on both Fox and Fox Deportes, and viewers can “watch a live stream on FoxSportsGo.com and the Fox Sports Go iPad app in both languages.” Winslow noted network execs generally are “reluctant to try out new technologies during the biggest sporting event of the year.” Steinberg: “You never want to take something out for the first time at a Super Bowl. Everything we're using at MetLife is something we have been using or testing throughout the year” (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 1/30).

TEAM PLAYERS: In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht reported Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, "who each will be calling their fourth Super Bowl, are excited about what the weather element will bring" to the game. Aikman said, "There's something to be said for playing in the elements, whatever those might be." Buck said, "This is a football game. These guys don't play Arena Football. ... The only thing I hope for is there's no ice. If there's snow, then great. It will look pretty on your television" (NEWSOK.com, 1/30). On Long Island, Neil Best writes Aikman, a Pro Football HOFer has "mastered his second career" and feels "more bonded than ever" to Buck. Buck said that their 12-year partnership "continues to evolve." He said, "I've seen this spike over the last six weeks that I didn't see coming, and I don't know why." Buck added that Aikman is "'having more fun' on the air lately." Aikman "agreed that their chemistry has been at a high point, helped by their close relationship off the air." Aikman said that he "guards against the temptation to overdo it when prepping for a Super Bowl." He said, "With the extra week, there's so much more information you get you can almost become paralyzed because there's so much you know" (NEWSDAY, 1/31).

CROSSING THE RIVER
: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted Fox' Super Bowl pregame show will kickoff at 2:00pm ET at the net's broadcast location in Times Square, and "at the conclusion of the first hour, co-hosts Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee and analysts Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long and insider Jay Glazer will head off in a car to MetLife Stadium." The plan is "for the group -- then joined by analyst Michael Strahan -- to return on air" in the 4:00pm hour. Fox Coordinating Producer Bill Richards said, "The thing everyone is talking about this year is a New York-New Jersey game and I went after that in the pregame." Deitsch noted pregame segments will include a feature on the N.Y./New Jersey ties of late Pro Football HOFer Vince Lombardi, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly conducting "a live sit-down interview" with President Barack Obama; Strahan and FS1's Charissa Thompson interviewing "celebrities on a red-carpet outside MetLife Stadium"; and a tribute to late Fox broadcaster Pat Summerall. In what has become a "tradition for Fox, the network will have an on-air reading of the Declaration of Independence with past and present NFL figures" including Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, Giants President & CEO John Mara and Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch, Jets Owner Woody Johnson and members of the Boston Police Department and Houston Fire Department (SI.com, 1/29).

ALL-DAY AFFAIR: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes outside of Fox' plans, there is "an onslaught of Super Bowl pregame coverage, dwarfing what figures to be only about 3 1/2 hours tops of actual action on the field." NFL Network "wins the 'Overkill' Award, with 10 1/2 hours of pregame prattle set to roll" starting at 7:00am ET. Coverage for the first two hours will "include having a reporter at the stadium." NFL Network's "marquee pregame show, 'NFL GameDay Morning' takes over" with host Rich Eisen at 9:00am. ESPN, which "generally is the king of hype, is comparatively restrained this year." The net's "full-bore coverage doesn’t begin" until 10:00am with "Sunday NFL Countdown" and ends at 2:00pm (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/31).

FEELING IT: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes of the thousands of former NFLers "earning a living as analysts on football studio shows," NFL Network's Michael Irvin "sits atop this mountain of mouths." There is "no one we would rather watch," as Irvin is "the most convincing and compelling." All these "TV windbags who once played have a deep and abiding love for football." What "separates Irvin from the rest is this fear of ever again losing the connection" to the game (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/31).
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