SportsMedia Technology Celebrates a Decade at the Super Bowl

For the 10th consecutive year, SportsMedia Technology will lend its prowess in graphics, statistics, and video enhancements to the Super Bowl broadcast, providing viewers with instant and in-depth stats and information throughout the game. For Super Bowl XLIV this Sunday in Miami, CBS’s national telecast and NFL Network’s world feed will feature SportsMedia’s Autograph system for real-time game-clock and play-clock information and its QBStat system for real-time in-game statistics.

“The demand for real-time information continues to escalate,” says Don Tupper, VP of business development for SportsMedia. “The fans demand more, so we’re constantly trying to get more information delivered more quickly to viewers.”

The Autograph System
The Autograph system absorbs the clock streams from the stadium so it literally has a physical connection to the scoreboard controllers who maintain the play clock and game clock.  Autograph integrates that stream into its central system and distributes it to CBS and NFL Network for their telecasts.

“We’re kind of the brain behind the clocks,” says Tupper. “We’ve written a script command to power their Vizrt [graphics system] and make the clocks actually tick on the graphic.”

The QBStat System
QBStat functions in conjunction with Vizrt graphics systems as the primary tracker of in-game stats as well as players’ season and career numbers. Game Statistics and Information System (GSIS), the league’s official stats provider, is in the stadium scoring the game for the official record books.

However, the primary concern of GSIS is extreme accuracy rather than promptness, and it can take its operators as long as 30-60 seconds to decide if a run goes for 5 yards or 6 yards. Broadcasters, on the other hand, need this information immediately. That’s where QBStat comes in.

“The idea is that someone is scoring the game and they’re trying to get the critical information in the computer and out to viewers as fast as possible,” says Tupper. “Really, [viewers] don’t care if it’s 6 or 7 yards because, in TV, that isn’t really important unless it’s a major record. [Broadcasters] want to be able to slide out Peyton Manning’s stats instantly as soon as the play occurs, not when it’s marked official.”

Once the information is entered into the computer by the stat keeper, QBStat automatically sends a command to the Vizrt graphics system to pull up contextually relevant stats to display graphically in the telecast.

“No humans have to be involved in that step,” says Tupper. “[QBStat] just sends a command to the Viz [graphics system], and it automatically displays Peyton’s and Reggie Wayne’s stats after a big pass play.”

To ensure that the stats are always accurate and up to date, once the official information for each play is available, it replaces the instant approximate stats in QBStat’s system.

“We always get that official stamp before the next play anyway,” says Tupper. “As soon as the official numbers come in, it steps on our data so that, in an event where an official judged it at 5 yards and we judged it at 4 yards, our numbers are updated and [correlated] with the official stats.”

When this information is sent to the Vizrt graphics system, it is also updated in the CBS/NFL Network production truck to facilitate the statistical graphic displays used by the announcers and crew.

“The entire production is always in synch,” says Tupper. “When Viz is firing that information graphically on-screen [for viewers], that same information is also in front of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms so they’re referring to the same statistics that everyone sees on TV.”

SportsMedia will also provide on-site technical support to CBS and NFL Network during the Super Bowl broadcast.

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