Super Bowl Requires Super Data-Handling Technology

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-01-25 Print this article Print

In broadcast sports, a production mistake can stand out like a missed field goal in overtime.

About 1 billion viewers will be watching Super Bowl XLII Feb. 3, but few will give much thought to, let alone understand, how much digital data is being fed to them-and how it's all assembled and telecast.

Mike Davies gives it a lot of thought. Davies, director of field operations for Fox Sports, spent some time with eWEEK recently and offered an overview of what it takes tech-wise to put on a huge live show like the Super Bowl.

As one might imagine, it's a pretty big operation. Everything has to work together down to the second; a production mistake can stand out like a missed field goal in overtime.

"We'll be using about 300 people and eight on-site production trucks-four for general game coverage, two for instant replays and two for the preview, halftime and post-game shows," Davies said. "We'll have 35 high-def cameras at the game [including the motorized, radio-frequency-operated, over-the-field cam] and three for the red carpet show."

Red carpet? At the Super Bowl? Yes, there indeed will be an Oscars-like pre-game show, featuring host Ryan Seacrest, in which he interviews various celebrities and VIPs for two hours as they arrive at the game. There is also a two-hour pre-game show before the game actually starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. Both pre-game shows will be intermingled on air.

So when scheduling your Super Bowl party, keep in mind that the game actually starts four full hours after the so-called Fox "coverage" begins.

"Hey, they were quite able to sell all that time," Davies said. "People will watch, all day long."

Indeed they will. According to the Nielsen television rating folks, the Super Bowl-no matter who's playing in it-has been consistently in the top 10 of all single-event telecasts year after year since 1969, when Broadway Joe Namath put the event on the map by boldly predicting a victory for the underdog New York Jets against the then-mighty Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts. 

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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