NBC Sports To Debut New Field-Goal Tracer Graphic on Sunday Night Football

SNF Kicks system leverages TrackMan technology to illustrate flight of field goals

NBC Sports continues to add virtual graphics to its Sunday Night Football telecasts with the debut of SNF Kicks field-goal “tracer”on this Sunday’s New Orleans Saints–Minnesota Vikings matchup. The new SNF Kicks Tracer, an element of SNF Kicks, can map the flight of the football on all field-goal attempts. The SNF Kicks system, which uses TrackMan technology, will provide such data as trajectory, speed of the football, and a “good from” statistic indicating the furthest distance from which a made field goal would have been successful.

SNF Kicks maps the flight of the ball on a field goal and determines the maximum distance from which it would have been good.

The SNF Kicks “good from” metric will be used for field goals of 45 or more yards. This is the distance at which kickers typically put more power behind their kicks, making the maximum-length measurement more applicable.

Using TrackMan technology, which is deployed by NBC Sports/Golf Channel and other networks on golf coverage, SNF Kicks determines the “good from” stat by tracking the football from when it is kicked until the ball hits the net. The full flight measurement and advanced modeling techniques determine the maximum distance from which the kick would have been successful, based on both distance and direction (any hook or slice).

“As we continue to use the most cutting-edge technology to enhance our Sunday Night Football broadcast, we are excited to add the tracer to our coverage,” SNF Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli said in an announcement. “With many games coming down to field goals, this new element will illustrate the flight of the football, while also providing many statistics pertinent to the kicking game. And field goals are only the beginning. By the end of the season, we hope to be showcasing the technology on kickoffs and punts and eventually make our way to the passing game.”

Added TrackMan Product Manager Justin Padjen, “We are excited to provide this…information to viewers. NBC Sports’ vision aligns well with what we feel is attainable with the data being measured. We look forward to creating more of these unique insights to provide a deeper understanding of the action on the field.”

With the Green Zone graphic, the darker shade of green shows the distance needed on third down to make a first down.

The debut of SNF Kicks follows NBC’s introduction of the Green Zone graphic during the NFL Preseason. The graphic illustrates the distance between the line of scrimmage and the first-down marker, allowing viewers to more easily see the distance needed on third down to reach the first-down marker. The broadcaster worked with SMT, longtime provider of the 1st-and-Ten graphic, to make the field surface a darker shade of green between the line of scrimmage and the yellow first-down line.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred to SNF Kicks as “television’s first-ever” field-goal tracking technology. However, ESPN debuted field-goal tracking technology for the first time in 2004 at the Insight Bowl in Phoenix, AZ. ESPN worked with SMT to create a two-camera click-tracking effect in which an operator would click on the ball six to 12 times in two perpendicular cameras.  That would triangulate the trail path and calculate the distance it would have been made from, showed the apex, showed the trail, extended the uprights virtually, and offered a multiple ways to illustrate it.

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