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Volume 21 No. 1
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Fox, ESPN give their regards to Broadway

Super Bowl Boulevard will be bookended by two large broadcast sets, with Fox Sports setting up in a Times Square location best known for its New Year’s Eve celebration and ESPN in Herald Square, best known for serving as the base for the city’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

From opposite ends of Super Bowl Boulevard, both networks will use that stretch of Broadway as the backdrop to their week of Super Bowl programming.

ESPN’s set will be similar to the one for Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“When you put on ESPN for Super Bowl coverage that week, you should know where you are,” said Seth Markman, senior coordinating producer for ESPN. “There’s no doubt in my mind when you put on our Super Bowl coverage, you know we’re in the middle of Manhattan. I think it’s one of the great shots of New York, from Herald Square down Broadway.”

NFL Network also will have its main set on Super Bowl Boulevard, halfway between the sets of ESPN and Fox Sports (between 41st and 42nd streets). NFL Network will produce most of its “NFL Total Access” and “Super Bowl Live” shows from this enclosed set. The network also has a set at the media center on radio row.

CBS Sports and NBC Sports Group will use their Manhattan-based studios for much of their Super Bowl week programming. NBC will move its “Pro Football Talk” show from Connecticut to 30 Rock for the week, and CBS Sports Network’s “Boomer and Carton” simulcast from WFAN will come from the M&M’s World store on Broadway.

Fox Sports will install a 40-by-40-foot structure in Times Square with a rooftop option.
Photo by: FOX SPORTS
For Fox Sports, the New York Super Bowl represents a coming out party, of sorts, for its new sports channels, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. The network is making its Times Square set big enough to handle all of its Super Bowl week shows on those channels.

“Given that we have all the other programming for Fox Sports 1, we needed a set that projected a huge personality as the host broadcaster, but also was functional enough to do a lot of different things,” said Gary Hartley, executive vice president of graphics for Fox Sports.

That includes a two-story, 40-foot-by-40-foot structure with a full TV studio and green room. Weather permitting, Fox Sports plans to shoot some segments from its rooftop, which will be 44 feet above the street.

Outside the structure, Fox Sports will have three LED screens and a 16-foot-tall Cleatus robot.

“In New York, if you don’t have a lot of real estate, you have to go up. That’s why we wound up with the enormous stage that we’re talking about today,” said Mike Davies, vice president of field operations for Fox Sports.

ESPN’s set will look much like it did in Indianapolis — another city challenged by cold weather. The set will be enclosed in glass showing Super Bowl Boulevard behind the commentators.

ESPN also plans to make use of studio space in Times Square that houses ABC’s “Good Morning America” and its Keith Olbermann show.

Fox Sports will not use Fox News’ Manhattan studio, but some Fox News shows could use the Fox Sports set, possibly including Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Both ESPN and Fox Sports will have game-day sets at MetLife Stadium. Fox Sports’ set will be climate controlled, while ESPN’s anchors will be in the elements.

Executives from both ESPN and Fox Sports said dealing with the prospects of bad weather did not present as much of a challenge as dealing with New York City.

“It’s not about the weather; it’s more about the space and the cost of the space in the city,” ESPN’s Markman said. “In New York, there are a lot of spaces that have iconic landmarks. But it costs a lot of money.”

For ESPN, Super Bowl week coverage will look similar to previous years. The biggest change will be the emphasis on weather. It plans to have “Good Morning America” weather forecaster Ginger Zee on air throughout the week.

“I can’t imagine that every ‘NFL Live,’ every ‘NFL Insider,’ every ‘SportsCenter’ isn’t going to have a segment in it with some update on what Sunday’s weather looks like,” Markman said. “It’s such a big factor in the game.”

Another change will come from ESPN’s show “NFL Insiders,” which will be shot from the Super Bowl location and will focus on stories not related to the Super Bowl.

“It’s not going to be a heavy Super Bowl show,” Markman said. “We want to use that hour to talk about the other 30 teams as much as possible. That’s an opportunity to really have something different that other shows aren’t doing on Super Bowl week.”