CBS and ESPN Share Facilities and Personnel To Ease Pro Bowl/Super Bowl Turnover

For the first time, this season’s Pro Bowl took place one week prior to the Super Bowl and was played in the same venue, Miami’s Sun Life Stadium. ESPN televised the Pro Bowl on Sunday and is packing up most of its operation to move out in time for CBS to move in. However, the two networks are using some of the same facilities and personnel, lessening the cost of operations for both camps.

Benefits to Both
“The shows are a week apart, so there is some sharing of equipment and personnel,” says Steve Carter, senior manager of event operations for ESPN. “We’re sharing the Chapman cranes, and our RF vendors are the same, so they’re working with us on pricing.” He adds that, since some crews will work both games, both CBS and ESPN will see a cost benefit.

The networks will also share the Skycam, to avoid having to take it down just to reinstall it a week later, as well as aerial coverage and a studio set.

“Our host studio set they will use in the pre-game show,” says Jay Rothman, senior coordinating producer for ESPN. “We do try to share facilities, given that there are two games being broadcast out of the stadium, especially with one being the Super Bowl.”

Room To Maneuver
With the normal truck compound already filled by CBS’s Super Bowl trucks, ESPN was sent to an outer compound across the road, with the NFL running extra cable to accommodate the Pro Bowl broadcaster.

“We had to spend a little more time determining what cable we needed as far as audio, video, fiber-optic cable, triax, and all that,” Carter points out. “There was a little bit more prep work required on our part to give them our list of cabling and where it needed to be.”

Security has also been an issue. ESPN took a crew of around 200 to Miami, which is typical of a Monday Night Football broadcast, but credentialing through the NFL was far more complicated than the normal process for a regular-season game.

“We’re not used to the Super Bowl-style security,” Carter says.

Keep On Trucking
The normal complement of MNF trucks are parked in Miami: NEP Supershooter 25’s A, B, C, and D units, a Featherlite trailer, and NEP SS11 for studio operations.

“Normally, we use SS43 for the studio,” Carter says, “but that’s down at a South Beach set, so we brought in a different truck for this setup.”

Let There Be Light
ESPN and CBS are also sharing some lighting enhancements at Sun Life Stadium.

“Prior to our first Monday Night game at the stadium in the fall, we had Musco Lighting come in and supplement the lighting with the understanding that it would be in place for the two regular-season games and the Pro Bowl and remain for the Super Bowl for CBS,” Carter says. “Lighting is an issue here, but it’s much better now.”

An additional 108 lighting instruments were added to the lighting grid in the stadium, bringing illumination capacity from 75 foot-candles up to 200 foot-candles.

“The lighting was very uneven before,” he adds. “It’s much more even and flat now.”

A Quick Exit
Even with all of the sharing, ESPN had plenty of teardown to do after the Pro Bowl’s conclusion.

“There’s not as much savings on teardown time as you’d think,” Carter says. “We still have to bring everything back to the trucks and inventory it, and three of our trucks are pulling out.”

The A and B units from SS 25 will remain parked at the stadium, since the NFL will produce the Super Bowl world feed out of them, but ESPN must leave no trace as it packs up its Pro Bowl setup.

“We have to bring the trucks back to where they were at the beginning of the season,” Carter says. “We don’t want to just leave everything out for a week.”

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