Fox Ramps Up Pro Bowl Coverage To Kick off Super Bowl Week
Sunday’s Pro Bowl broadcast is more than an excuse for fans to listen in on players’ and coaches’ sideline conversations. For Fox Sports, this year’s Pro Bowl surpasses a celebration of great players, helping create anticipation of great plays to come.
“For us, this is a kickoff for Super Bowl week,” says Jerry Steinberg, SVP of field operations for Fox Sports. “We’ve got the ingredients for the Super Bowl of all time working here, so we want to launch a week of celebrating the Super Bowl. We’ve committed a lot more resources to this Pro Bowl than previous years, and we’re throwing a bunch of star power at it.”
That star power begins with headline names like Terry Bradshaw, Tony Siragusa, and Jay Glazer, who will be on-site hosting a live studio show from Aloha Stadium, and continues with the All-Pro players themselves.
“The biggest thing about the Pro Bowl is that we’re allowed to mike players more or less live,” says VP of Technical Operations Michael Davies. “We work in cooperation with NFL Films, so we pick up the audio feed from them and insert that into the broadcast. There are 10 players who are going to be miked, and that’s often why the Pro Bowl is a different and special broadcast.”
NFL Films will capture audio from both coaches as well. To allow for any colorful language that the microphones may pick up, the game will be broadcast on a five-second delay.
This Pro Bowl will be special also because of the facilities that Fox Sports is using to produce it. Finding HD production trucks can be a chore in Hawaii, but, thanks to the Sony Open that took place on the island earlier this month, Fox Sports has access to an NEP HD mobile unit for this weekend’s broadcast, SS19.
“We anticipate that we’ll have all the comforts of home in terms of a broadcast,” Davies says. “When we did the Pro Bowl after Super Bowl XLII, we had to use an SD truck. Now the facilities are considerably ramped up.”
Transmission, however, remains an issue. Because there is no terrestrial fiber connecting Hawaii to the mainland, the game will be transmitted via satellite.
“There are a few things that you need to work out when everything isn’t quite as available as it is in the lower 48,” Davies says.
Still, this year’s broadcast will feature several elements that have not been used at a Hawaii Pro Bowl before, including a camera complement that rivals any A-level regular-season broadcast, complete with a CableCam aerial camera system.
“I believe that this is the first time that CableCam has been in Aloha Stadium,” Davies says. “For this game, we need to have enough cameras to make sure the right people are iso-ed. We don’t need all of the tools that we might use to analyze a game from a competition standpoint, so we look at doing this game from more of a colorful, entertainment standpoint. The things that we have added will enhance the special nature of this game. We’re really turning things up for this broadcast; it’s going to be a big one.”
A team made up largely of freelancers is overseeing the broadcast in Hawaii, since the bulk of Fox Sports’ technical operations team is already on-site in Dallas preparing for its next big kickoff, the Feb. 6 Super Bowl.
“In the past, the Pro Bowl was a lot smaller, so it didn’t require that much technical attention,” Davies points out. “This is a serious and very complicated broadcast that we’re putting on, so we’re managing this thing remotely with some very capable hired hands.”
The Pro Bowl kicks off at 7 p.m. ET Sunday Jan. 30 on Fox.