Inside the NFL Moves to HD on Showtime

By Carolyn Braff
This week, Inside the NFL, the longest-running series on cable television, changed homes. The show debuted on Showtime on Wednesday night after more than three decades on HBO. However, much to the relief of loyal viewers, the qualities that made the show a success for 31 seasons continue to do so at its new network address.
Almost half the show, anywhere between 25 and 30 minutes of the show, is NFL Films content, explains Pete Radovich, producer of Inside the NFL. That content includes game highlights, film excerpts, and plenty of footage that is processed, transferred, and edited at NFL Films Mt. Laurel, NJ, headquarters, also home to the show s new set.
We have direct contact with the people that are working on the highlights, which are almost half the show, Radovich explains. Had we been in New York like HBO was, we d be working over phones, and the communication wouldn t be as quick as it is here. It s a great advantage being able to be directly in touch with the editors and producers that are cutting the highlights.
This year marks the first in which the show has been broadcast entirely in HD, providing fans with a better look than ever at the vast footage acquired by NFL Films.
Fans of the show are getting their first-ever look at the NFL Films highlights in HD, Radovich says. That s probably the most exciting thing about going HD. The set s going to look better, the announcers are going to look better, but really the highlight is that, with HD, fans at home will now be able to see NFL Films content in a way they never have before. Everyone involved on their end is very excited about that.
Aside from an increase in clarity, just how different will the show look on its new network?
I d be a fool to change a successful formula, Radovich says. The overall vibe of the show and the direction and pacing of the show will look a lot like the HBO show, with a different set and different talent.
While it may mimic its predecessor, Inside the NFL is certainly not mimicking NFL game-day studio shows, which Radovich says have a markedly different pace and feel.
On Sunday, the fan is in a different mindset than they are on Wednesday, Radovich explains. On Sunday, you re geared up to watch the game, and the sets that the NFL studio shows have on Sundays work well for that. They have a lot of monitors, graphics, sound effects.
This show airs on Wednesday night, he continues, and it has a different vibe. We have not so much in terms of electronics and monitors. The set is very comfortable and organic, with a lot of earth tones. We decided not go crazy with the electronics, effects, sound effects. We really concentrated on keeping it a comfortable environment.
Radovich stresses that Inside the NFL keeps to the basics of storytelling by focusing on the announcers and their opinions rather than on the production bells and whistles that other shows pile on top of their talent.
As far as electronics and technology on this show, I think the techies will be disappointed, he says. We re proving that you can do a great show without all the gadgets. I think this show does go in the opposite direction of most studio shows as far as that s concerned, but I think it s also successful for that same reason.
In short, Inside the NFL is different, but in a good way.
Inside the NFL airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET for 23 weeks, through the 2008 postseason.

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