NFL Kickoff 2018: CBS Sports Embarks on High-Tech Path to Super Bowl LIII
New production gear, talent will mark the Eye’s 20th telecast of the big game
With the first full weekend of action for all 30 NFL teams just ahead, the NFL on CBS is already gearing up for another Super Bowl. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus is confident that the new season will showcase weekly progress and continue the legacy of innovation leading up to Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“Priority No. 1 is to do a first-rate job with [our NFL coverage this season],” he says. “Second is to come up with innovations that will premiere in the Super Bowl. I don’t know what those are yet, but we’ve got a pretty good track record of coming up with innovations, so I think we probably will for this Super Bowl as well.”
All Eyes on Feb. 3
CBS Sports received a Live Sports Special Emmy and the George Wensel Technical Achievement Award for its latest Super Bowl effort, Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in 2016. The EyeVision 360 — a 36-camera setup surrounding the field to provide 360-degree replays — was the headliner, so expect that and more when the NFL heads down South to crown a champion. According to Executive Producer/SVP, Production, Harold Bryant, the CBS team looks to push the tech envelope every time the Eye Network broadcasts the last game of the NFL season.
“The expectation is to put on a tremendous show for the Super Bowl,” he says. “We are geared up and planning and ready to go to put on a bigger and better show than we did last time. It’s still early. We’re still testing a lot of new technology and a lot of equipment. We’re using the preseason right now to test new cameras, new microphones, and replay devices. We’ll try them throughout the year.”
Dual SkyCams on Tap for Some Games
CBS Sports will continue to deploy SkyCam in all NFL coverage. Last season, the 1st-and-Ten virtual graphic was integrated into it, and, in the postseason, the production team deployed dual SkyCam systems for its coverage of the Tennessee Titans–New England Patriots AFC Divisional Playoff Game. This season, the tandem will be used in both regular-season and Super Bowl broadcasts.
“Our lead crew will have it on every one of their games,” says Bryant, adding, “We’ve going to look at dual SkyCams on several games. Not every game for our A crew, but we’ll have a number of games with a dual SkyCam. You’ll see that at the Super Bowl. We’re also deploying more high-speed [cameras] and testing new things as we go.”
Announce Crew Returns With Additions
The on-air talent will be a mixture of familiar and new faces. In the booth, 2018 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee Jim Nantz will again be joined by Tony Romo in his sophomore season, and Tracy Wolfson remains as sideline reporter. The B team will comprise of Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, and Evan Washburn. Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and longtime official Gene Steratore are joining the team as game analyst and rules analyst, respectively.
For pre/postgame festivities, The NFL Today is entering its 51st season with host James Brown and anchors Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Phil Simms, and Nate Burleson; Jason La Canfora will continue to serve as the “NFL Insider.”
All Hands on Deck for the Grandest Stage
Coverage across all CBS Sports assets will be enhanced, according to McManus. “CBS Sports Network,” he notes, “is gearing up to do 55 hours of live coverage from [Atlanta] in addition to what we’re doing on the broadcast network.
“There’s nothing like a Super Bowl,” he continues. “It’s the biggest event in television. It’s the most pressure of any event, but I think we’ve got the team. The men and women of CBS Sports and of NFL on CBS are ready to do another spectacular job.”