On the Gridiron: New York Giants Entertain At-Home Fans With Daily Digital, Linear Programming

The organization is ramping up its content delivery on multiple fronts

Many professional sports have opted for a return to play inside a sanitized bubble. Not the NFL. Without skipping a beat, the league is soldiering on with regular-season games in all 30 stadiums across the country. Similar to our At the Ballpark series, On the Gridiron examines the new routines, habits, and production philosophies of in-venue personnel on any given Thursday, Sunday, or Monday.

In what has become a down year for the franchise, the New York Giants are still running full steam ahead in the content game. As the team continues to play in front of empty seats in MetLife Stadium, the organization’s production staff is ramping up digestible and interactive material on its digital and linear channels to maintain a connection with fans watching from the couch.

“The week leading up to a game is a story,” says Don Sperling, VP/executive producer, New York Giants. “This is our way of keeping the interests of fans for seven days a week and 24 hours a day. If you’re a Giants fan, you can never be bored, because you have enough to keep you entertained throughout the whole week.”


High Volume of Content: Week-Long Programming Keeps Diehard Fans Informed

Known for a wide array of ancillary content accompanying the live broadcast, the New York Giants are continuing this tradition by bridging a gap between the faithful stuck at home and the four-time Super Bowl champions. Via digital avenues, including the team’s website at Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, the Giants YouTube channel, and various social-media accounts, fans are experiencing a surplus of content to keep them busy during the week as well as before and after a game.

The Joe Judge Report examines critical plays of the past week.

To bolster the team’s programming reach, the franchise has developed four shows airing this season on MSG Networks and WWOR-TV. On Mondays, head coach Joe Judge and sportscaster Bob Papa break down some of the most critical offensive, defensive, and special teams’ plays of the past week on The Joe Judge Report. Later in the week, Giants First & 10 — which airs on Friday, Saturday, and before the game on Sunday — sets the table with the 10 most important storylines and matchups to watch. The show is hosted by Papa and former linebacker Carl Banks, but other Giants personalities and alumni also join the show: former wide receiver Victor Cruz, former offensive linemen Shaun O’Hara and David Diehl, and reporters Madelyn Burke and Paul Dottino. On Saturday night, Giants Access Blue — a behind-the-scenes, off-the-field, backstage magazine show – airs at 11 p.m. on WWOR-TV. After the game, the Giants Postgame Wrap-Up sums up the action.

For a bit of nostalgia unrelated to the upcoming game, the weekend is packed with episodes of Giants Chronicles, a 30-minute show that recaps some of the greatest moments and players in the organization’s 95-year history. For example, the story of the 1990 season, which ended in a Super Bowl victory, was retold for its 30th anniversary.

Oikos Strongest Play of the Week with Shaun O’Hara is among the content streamed exclusively on digital platforms.

To establish a cohesive and cross-platform initiative, non-linear platforms will include repurposed televised material and digital exclusives: Oikos Strongest Play of the Week with O’Hara; 2 Minute Drill; Sights and Sounds; Above the Numbers with Diehl, Cruz and Dottino; Audible with Burke and Cruz; and Crossfire with Banks and former tight end Howard Cross. To add a more-personal touch, current players, such as wide receiver Darius Slayton, participate in the short Know Your Giant.

Shift in Priorities: In-Venue Crew Caters to Players, Sponsors

Although a long list of offerings are served up to fans during the week, the team’s main priority on game day is a live videoboard show. Without loyal fans in the seats, the production strategy has changed quite a bit. The visuals would normally be designed to fire up a large swath of spectators, but, today, these elements are targeting the folks wearing the helmets and headsets down below.

Senior Director, Production and Events, Christine Baluyot runs the in-venue videoboard show.

“[Our show] is 99% about the team, so we’re playing videos when they’re on defense, music on third down, and the different chants that we always do,” says Sperling. “We’re still using our three EVS [replay] machines and super-slow-motion 4K camera to give our coach replays to look at. Those are some of the things that we’re doing to make sure that our team has a home-field advantage.”

In addition, sponsorship obligations are being fulfilled inside the stadium. Although a good amount of sponsorship content is handled through the digital and linear shows, the design, layout, and delivery of material on the LED screens are being altered to put the sponsor in the spotlight.

Multimedia Senior Producer Mike Becton gets a close-up shot of wide receiver Golden Tate.

“Outside of this season,” Sperling adds, “you’re also creating an event for your business partners, so we’re taking care of our sponsors as best as we can inside the stadium. On the television broadcast, there are a lot of cameras that can take shots of the boards and tarps in the seating sections. For instance, we normally shoot in 4:1 because we have very wide screens, but now we’re shooting everything in 16:9 and putting up sponsorship messaging.”

Midweek Operations: Staff Obeys Different Protocols at the Practice Facility

Associate Producer Natalie Wizel edits a video in the control room.

Home games at MetLife Stadium come with stringent safety protocols, but, during the midweek grind between games, the staff has to abide by other guidelines. Located at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ, the practice facility houses team workouts and the offices of Sperling’s crew. In a normal year, access to players wouldn’t be an issue.

“Our offices are upstairs, but the team is downstairs near the studio,” he says. “Without COVID-19, our studio is in an ideal spot because it’s between the players’ locker room and the lunchroom. Safety protocols have made it a little difficult.”

This year, the studio’s position within the facility and its close proximity to the locker room and practice field force non-credentialed staffers to stay as far from the players as possible.

“When the players are going back and forth to team meetings, everybody stays away,” Sperling explains. “When they’re coming off the practice field, we are either locked in our studio or back upstairs. We’re used to what the schedule is and make the best use of our time. We also wear small electronic devices: if you get too close to somebody, a buzzer goes off. Everybody has done a good job with handling those rules.”

The Ones Who Get It Done: Notable Names of Giants’ Production Team

Photographer/Graphics Designer Matt Swensen is one of the few crew members who have field-level access on game day.

For an organization that expects resolute excellence in all facets of its operations, the production department is passing the test with flying colors. In a year defined by its challenges, the digital and linear content is actively passing the passion for the Giants from one generation of fans to the next. For Sperling, it’s a testament to the work ethic and dedication of his entire team.

He notes particularly “some of our Tier 2 people, like [Multimedia Senior Producer] Mike Becton, who has been a monster in gathering visuals and working around the clock, and [Team Photographer Motion/Digital Graphics Designer] Matt Swensen, who’s doing incredible work at dual capacity. [In addition], Senior Director, Production and Events, Christine Baluyot is running our show, and [Associate Producer] Natalie Wizel is managing our operation down in the studio. Everybody here is doing an incredible job.”

The New York Giants return to MetLife Stadium Sunday, Oct. 18 for a matinee contest against the Washington Football Team at 1:05 p.m. ET.

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