CBS, FSN, Versus Adopt PVI Downstream First-and-Ten Graphics Technology

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Graphical enhancements like First-and-Ten lines, virtual advertisements and other on-field graphics have made a technical leap in recent weeks as PVI has created a way for broadcast network partners to move the systems out of the production trucks and into the network operations center. The advantage? Networks can add the enhancements to any sporting event passing through the facility and no longer need to coordinate the location of systems within their production fleet.

“As new channels like regional and even sub-regional networks come online they want to add graphics into their game coverage,” says Sam McCleery, executive vice president of sales and marketing for PVI Virtual Media Services. “By converting our system from an upstream system [which is still available] to a downstream system the networks can do more enhancements.”

PVI systems are currently hardwired into CBS Sports and the Fox Sports Regional playout center in Houston where it is used by the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports Net. At CBS, for example, multiple systems are in place to handle SEC and the B and C NFL telecasts. Each system has an operator listening to the director calling the game in the truck so they know which camera is on-air. The only requirement in the field is a spotter who tells the graphics operator where the first down marker is located.

“In terms of the production this gives a lot of flexibility to the team,” says McCleery. “They can decided two hours before a broadcast to add graphics to a telecast and the advertising department can sell on-air graphics right up until air time.”

Games featuring first down line enhancements will come from the Big 12, Pac 10, ACC, and WAC conferences on FSN and VERSUS, while Big Ten and SEC games shown on CBS and Big Ten Network will showcase both the first down line and line of scrimmage enhancements. In addition, FSN will feature a branded first down line.

Those networks that prefer to have systems on-site will still be able to do so in the future. In fact, there are some advantages to doing so. For example, when the system is on site on-air talent are able to see the graphics on the monitor. When the graphics are inserted at master control on-air talent needs to assume that the graphics are there.

Doug Sellars, executive vice president and executive producer, FSN, says by providing these features ‘downstream’ from our Master Control Center, PVI offers valuable flexibility to FSN broadcasting operations. “It also alleviates the pressures and costs that come with providing them on-site,” he says.

In addition to the famous yellow first down line and the equally popular blue line of scrimmage, broadcasters have the option to virtually integrate other insertions into live telecasts, such as a “branded” first down line, featuring an animated logo or other image as a form of advertising revenue. FSN will feature a branded first down line for Overstock.com for the fourth consecutive year.

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