NFL Preseason Kicks off Shift to HD Instant Replay; Harris Corporation System Gives Referees Sharpest View Ever

HD Instant
Replay Active at Pro Football Stadiums

The National
Football League (NFL) is kicking off a new era in officiating as preseason
football gets underway this week and is marking the first time referees in any
major sports league will use high-definition (HD) instant replay systems to
review close calls.

Twenty-one
years after the NFL first began using instant replay, referees at professional
football stadiums will use new HD systems from Harris Corporation that provide
images five times sharper than previous standard- definition systems. The new
HD systems will enable referees on the field and in replay booths to scan and
freeze frame the crystal clear video so they can more accurately rule on
sideline catches, goal line stands and other critical plays that often are
challenged by coaches.

The new HD
instant replay systems have been installed in 28 NFL stadium replay booths,
which are staffed by replay officials, a video technician, a video operator and
a communicator. Booths at the three remaining NFL stadiums –

New
York,

Dallas and

Indianapolis – will be activated after the stadiums
are renovated. Harris also supplied two other HD instant replay systems for use
by the NFL to train officials.

“This
is a rare opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology to improve the
integrity of the game,” said Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of
officiating. “Our referees will now be able to see images much more
clearly, giving reviews in critical situations the level of scrutiny they truly
deserve. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone – the coaches, players
and the fans.”

Harris, a provider
of HDTV solutions for sports broadcasting, supplied the HD playback systems, as
well as all the software and services to upgrade the instant replay systems.
Each stadium will use Harris NEXIO HD servers, FORCE software (Football
Officiating Replay Challenge Expeditor), and routing and distribution
equipment. Broadcasters and other organizations are transitioning to HD and
NEXIO HD server technology on a global scale – with thousands of channels
currently operating at broadcast facilities worldwide.

Harris has
a long-standing relationship with the NFL, and worked closely with the league
to develop the FORCE software that customizes the control application for
instant replay. The new HD systems replace existing Harris standard-definition
instant replay systems that NFL referees have been using since 1999. NFL team
owners voted in March 2007 to make instant replay permanent.

“Sports
programming is leading the conversion to high definition – and within sports, I
can think of no more exacting application than NFL replays, where the outcome
of a team’s season may depend on the referee’s call,” said Tim
Thorsteinson, president of Harris Broadcast Communications.

“The
NFL has become the first professional sports league to take advantage of the
clarity that high-definition video provides. Although fans have been able to
experience sports in HDTV at home for years, this marks the first time that it
will play an active role in helping determine the proper outcome in a game. We
are excited to be teaming with the NFL on this unique project.”

Instant Replay Milestones:

1963 – First use of instant replay in a
football game (Army/Navy game)

1985 – The United States Football League
begins using instant replay systems for regular-season games

1986 – The NFL votes to adopt the use of
instant replay systems.

The Cleveland Browns
become the first NFL team to have a call reviewed by instant replay.

1991 – The NFL votes to abandon VHA
tape-based instant replay.

1999 – Instant replay is reinstated in the
NFL. Harris system selected.

2007 – NFL
owners vote to make instant replay use by referees permanent.

First use of HD instant replay system in the
NFL preseason.

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