Fox Sports Kicks Off Super Programming Plans From Houston

Discovery Green operations are humming along as final stadium prep hits critical stage

The Super Bowl countdown has begun in earnest for Fox Sports. Today marks the beginning of a pre-event run that will deliver more than 20 hours of programming each day to viewers across several Fox networks: FS1, Fox News Channel, KRIV Houston, Fox Deportes, and more. But the start of programming signals the end of a multiyear effort that involved planning, site surveys, and, in recent weeks, hardcore construction.

Discovery Green in Houston will be the home for plenty of Fox Sports programming in advance of Super Bowl LI next Sunday.

Discovery Green in Houston will be the home for plenty of Fox Sports programming in advance of Super Bowl LI next Sunday.

“The team has been on the ground for a couple of weeks now and faced cold, wind, and inches of rain during construction,” says Michael Davies, SVP, technical and field operations, Fox Sports. “We are on the air now from Discovery Green with our weekly programs.”

The Discovery Green area is already a beehive of activity. A main studio, studio B, news stages, an affiliate gantry and a green room, and three production trucks with 36 HD cameras are on hand to produce more than 20 hours of programming a day across various Fox entities. There are also 36 wireless microphones, 48 wireless intercom packs, 41 HD monitors, and 14 miles of tactical fiber cable (with 986 strands of single-mode fiber).

FS1 alone will have 51 hours of studio programming (including pre/postgame coverage), nearly 80% more than in 2014, the last time Fox broadcast the Super Bowl.

And then there is NRG Stadium, site of the big game on Sunday night. There are 13 mobile units in the broadcast compound along with 15 temporary structures, offering a combined work space of more than 29,000 sq. ft.; more than 34 miles of cable has been laid. Among other highlights are 70 cameras, including two high-speed 4K cameras shooting at 240 fps, four Sony Super Motion cameras shooting at 180 fps, two Super Motion cameras shooting at 360 fps, and the high-speed cameras shooting at 480 fps. There are also one 8K camera and 24 pylon cameras (eight pylons with three cameras each).

Audio will be captured with 91 microphones (including NFL Films player mics) and then mixed on one of three consoles in 5.1 surround sound.

And, of course, nothing is being left to chance with respect to power: there is 3 MW of power generation on hand, enough to power 3,000 homes.

One of the technical highlights promises to be the “Be The Player” enhancement. With the help of multiple cameras and massive computer processing courtesy of Intel, the system will allow viewers at home to see a POV from any player on the field without the need for a physical camera to be attached to the player.

Fox Sports is also stepping up the use of augmented reality and next-generation stats. Seven enhanced augmented-reality cameras will be used, including one on the Skycam, and a live first-down line can be placed on the field and flown around in real time. And RF/IF transceivers in players’ helmets will allow meaningful stats to be delivered within shots from the Skycam.

“We are on schedule with setup of the stadium,” adds Davies. “This is easily the biggest Super Bowl that we have done.”

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