NBC Lightens Up With Pro Bowl Coverage

It’s easy to get lost in the festivities of the Pro Bowl (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, NBC). It’s not about grunting linebackers, or clutch catches, or even the final score. Instead, the coaches wear flowered shirts, players stage practical jokes, and nearly everyone is smiling under the beating Pacific sun.

So, when the NFL’s best arrive at Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium this weekend and NBC gets behind the cameras, it will be less about the game and more about celebrating the game’s best players (who aren’t Giants or Patriots).

“The game itself is much different from a Sunday-night game in that we have a lot more access,” says producer Rob Hyland, who typically serves as producer on NBC’s Notre Dame coverage. “We will be able to do unique things that we don’t typically do or aren’t able to do on Sunday Night Football.”

Taking advantage of that access, the crew will have six players – Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, and Ray Lewis – wearing microphones during the game, and NBC’s two sideline reporters – Alex Flanagan and Randy Moss – will have the ability to interview players during the game. In addition, NBC will have access to coach-quarterback radio transmission and will deploy its ‘stedi-cam’ operator into the teams’ huddles.

It’s all part of the atmosphere of a game where the objective is much less about the final score and more about telling the stories of the NFL’s best players this season.

“It’s not like the announcers and I are watching a ton of game film for this game,” laughs Hyland, who worked as a replay producer under SNF chief Frank Gaudelli when NBC last had the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, in 2009. “It’s all about telling stories of the players on each team and giving our audience unique access to these players.”

Working with a crew nearly entirely different from its Super Bowl crew, which is set to be stationed in Indianapolis, NBC will use a pair of NEP production trucks — ND2 and ST10 – for the Pro Bowl broadcast. ND2 is NEP’s Hawaii-exclusive mobile unit, which is dedicated primarily to PGA Tour events held on the big island. Artie Kempner, who directs NFL games for NFL Network and Fox, and who directed Super Bowl XLII, will direct.

Eight hard cameras and four handheld cams — including an RF Steadi-cam — will be deployed throughout the Aloha Bowl, a total that is a shade under the total camera complement used on a SNF broadcast. CableCam will also be on hand, helping NBC pick up the unique access that Hyland emphasizes is so crucial to covering a game of this nature.

“If there’s a funny moment that happens during a commercial timeout,” he says, “and we had a camera on, say, Drew Brees and he’s joking around with another player, we’re going to cue that up and play it back. Our goal is for our audience to see the other side of these guys.”

NBC’s Pro Bowl coverage will also be closely tied to and serve as a kickoff to the network’s comprehensive, weeklong Super Bowl XLVI coverage. During a 30-minute pregame show on Sunday, Bob Costas will host a segment from NBC’s set in Indianapolis. In addition, Costas and analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison will handle the halftime show and discuss Super Bowl-related news.

Sunday’s broadcast marks fourth time ever and the second time in three years that NBC has broadcast the Pro Bowl.

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