Super Bowl World Feed Features More Networked Audio Than Ever
Steve Fisher is the manager of the international audio-distribution feed at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, but he prefers the grittier title of “traffic cop” for the scores of feeds he’s supervising. These are the audio feeds from the NBC domestic broadcast, which are distributed by the league to more than 180 countries and territories around the world in 25 languages. Last year’s Super Bowl was viewed by an estimated 111 million people.
This year’s international feed requires eight satellite uplinks, more than a dozen remote trucks and 15 trailers, including NEP Supershooters 25, from which A1 Jamie McCombs will be mixing the international audio feed, taken from a split from the NBC audio mixed by Wendell Stevens in the NBC ND3 truck. The international compound where Fisher resides is at the other end of Lucas Oil Stadium from the NBC compound, a distance being addressed by the use of CobraNet digital audio networking, the fifth year on a row that the international audio has been networked and the most extensive use of that yet, says Fisher.
“A few paths of fiber is a lot less weight, install time, and maintenance in a scenario like this,” he explains. “Capacity is no issue with a Gigabit network on fiber.”
Nonetheless, there’s still plenty of copper for audio; Fisher reports that more than 200 rolls of DT12 cabling were on-site, totaling more than 72,000 ft. of copper wire. These are used to distribute the signal to dozens of temporary announce booths used by global broadcasters NHK, Shanghai Media Group, Viasat, W9, Televisa, NTV, BBC, and ESPN International Networks. The one booth not relying on copper connectivity, the world announce booth is using the Lance Design ADX-120 announce unit, which provides inputs for a headset microphone and IFB, two-channel wet PLs (putting power on the intercom and IFB circuits), and an additional mic or line input plus an additional two-channel wet or dry IFB, in a single unit. The entire networking operation is based on the Lance ADX-2400.
“It’s a cost-effective method of connecting an announce booth with fiber without additional components,” he says.
NBC’s announcers are sent as a separate feed to international broadcast clients, who will generally use them as the cues for their own commentaries. During commercials for the domestic broadcast, the league’s international feed supplies both preproduced interview and other content as well as recaps and highlight footage from the game. Audio is supplied in a discrete 5.1 surround format as stems; it’s also fed through a DaySequerra DTS Neural downmix encoder that outputs a DTS- and Dolby-compatible stereo mix, decodable at the consumer’s set-top box.
The halftime-show audio, mixed by Paul Sandweiss, will be sent to the international compound from the NEP Denali truck embedded in an HD-SDI feed, which is de-embedded in the NEP SS25 truck. This source is routed to a single surround fader on the Calrec Alpha console operated by McCombs.
“It’s a complex show that’s getting more complex and interesting every year,” says Fisher, who is working his 23rd Super Bowl. “But we’re making sure that people in China and Russia are getting as good a game as they are in America.”