NFL Kickoff: CBS Sports’ New Truck, New Studio Pave Way to Super Bowl 50
CBS Sports’ 48th season of presenting the NFL is setting up to be its biggest ever — by a long shot. The network has already launched a top-of-the-line production truck to deploy on Thursday Night Football and is poised to debut a new studio set on the season’s opening Sunday.
It’s all leading up to Feb. 7 and Super Bowl 50, which both CBS and the NFL are hyping as the biggest Super Bowl of all time.
“Everybody at CBS is enormously excited about the opportunity to do Super Bowl 50,” says CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “The Super Bowl is the biggest event in all of television and, in many ways, is one of, if not the biggest event in this country. To be able to do the biggest Super Bowl of all time is both a great opportunity and an enormous responsibility, and we don’t take that responsibility likely.”
CBS Sports is putting the finishing touches on the new New York City-based studio for The NFL Today, which returns on Sept. 13. CBS describes the design as “a retro stadium meets loft-style” setting with a full video wall. It also includes a touchscreen, monitors set on mobile tracks, LED lighting, and a new mobile desk with a large curved monitor in the front that is 50% larger than its predecessor.
“We wanted to take advantage of being here in New York and really give it a New York feel with a big lofty space with exposed brick,” says Harold Bryant, executive producer/SVP, production, CBS Sports. “It’s going to be wide open and [will] free up the hosts and make them not as stiff and anchored to the desk.”
The CBS crew will also deploy “Pylon Cam” on Thursday Night Football and select Sunday NFL on CBS productions. The technology encases high-definition POV cameras inside four pylons features four custom-molded pylons with multiple cameras to film the goal lines and sidelines on each side of the field. The high-resolution, high-definition, point-of-view cameras will be housed inside four pylons that are positioned on the ends of each goal line.
CBS is prepared to load up on other technologies, as well, with 4K cameras for replay zoom, drones for establishing shots at stadiums during times when fans are not in the stands, and using freeD, the 360-degree replay system available in select stadiums.
This season also marks the second year that CBS will carry the NFL’s expanded Thursday Night Football package. The arrangement is on a year-to-year basis, but, after a successful freshman campaign, the NFL turned to CBS again in 2015.
“We always argued at the NFL that Thursday could be and should be a football night,” says Brian Rolapp, EVP, media, NFL. “We often forget that people are conditioned to watch football on Sunday and Monday Night Football is well over 40 years old. This doesn’t happen overnight. We knew we needed to do something different to make Thursday Night bigger, and that led us to CBS, who distinguished themselves with a vision among a lot of competitors and came out with a very good plan. The reason we are back here today is because they executed on that plan very successfully.”
Last month, CBS rolled out SSCBS, an IP-friendly truck from NEP Broadcasting that will take the lead on all Thursday Night Football productions and will be the primary truck in what is certain to be a massive production compound at Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
The NFL on CBS is also produced by longtime industry stalwart Lance Barrow.