Super Bowl City Lets CBS Sports Get Interactive With Fans

The CBS Sports Super Bowl production machine heads into the final day before the big game, finalizing tweaks and rehearsals at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara while maintaining a solid presence at Super Bowl City in San Francisco, where features include a zip line designed to give fans visiting SBC a chance to take flight.

Patty Power of CBS Sports on the CBS Super Bowl City set in San Francisco.

CBS Sports’ Patty Power on the CBS Super Bowl City set in San Francisco

“We wanted to combine the on-air and fan activation, as the host committee wanted to have an interactive experience in Super Bowl City,” says Patty Power, SVP, operations, CBS Sports Network. “So we worked closely with them, and then our marketing folks came up with the idea for a zip line.”

The zip line is located in front of the main CBS Sports SBC set, which measures approximately 25 x 25 ft. A football-toss area is located next to the zip line, and both attractions ensure that the CBS Sports set is an active and lively area.

“We opened last Saturday, and it’s been packed,” says Power. “That has been really good as we have people showing up all the time and can capture what is going on in Super Bowl City for viewers.”

Also located in the area is a platform for CBS-owned-and-operated TV stations as well as affiliates and programs like Inside Edition and CBS This Morning.

The CBS Sports Super Bowl City set is has the San Francisco Ferry Building as an iconic backdrop.

The CBS Sports Super Bowl City set has the San Francisco Ferry Building as an iconic backdrop.

The footprint is a big change from the Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans three years ago. For that game, CBS took over iconic Jackson Square and had a completely secure location as the Square is fenced off and has gates that can be closed and locked.

In San Francisco, NEP’s SS16 production truck is on hand for the production from SBC, and, by the time tomorrow’s game kicks off, more than 75 hours of programming will have originated from the SBC set as well as from Radio Row in the Moscone Center.

“At Radio Row,” says Power, “we bring all the cameras back to New York for production, and that is how we do all the radio shows.

“The host committee here had some different requirements,” she continues, “so we are in the middle of an open area, and that can be a bit of a challenge.” For example, SBC is a secure area where everyone has to first pass through security screening, and that means that all CBS staffers, freelancers, and guests need to pass through that security area with the rest of the public.

NEP SS16 is on hand at Super Bowl City for CBS Sports production needs.

NEP SS16 is on hand at Super Bowl City for CBS Sports production needs.

Another first for a Super Bowl is that this is the first time the game location and the broadcaster’s studio set that has been used all week have been located so far apart (approximately 45 miles). Historically, the broadcaster of the game has had the opportunity to have pregame-show hosts begin Super Bowl Sunday at the set used all week and then transition to a pregame set at the stadium. That will not be happening this year: Greg Gumble will be the host in Super Bowl City, and James Brown and Ian Eagle will host pregame programming from Levi’s Stadium.

“The logistics of moving everyone would be too hard,” Power explains. “For the most part, if someone is on the operations and technical team, they are assigned to be either here or in Santa Clara.”

The CBS set is located next to the NFL Network set, and the two organizations have worked closely throughout the entire process of planning who would be where, building out sets, and figuring out beauty-shot camera locations that can be shared.

“We share the Spidercam with the NFL Network and some other resources, and then we have access to KPIX San Francisco’s cameras on the Ferry Building and elsewhere,” says Power. “We also have a fixed-wing [aircraft] that has gotten us great aerials during live shows.”

Despite the logistical challenges, there is little doubt that San Francisco’s compact size and iconic landmarks, coupled with what looks to be outstanding weather, will make Super Bowl weekend a super experience for fans of the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers who will be descending on Super Bowl City today.

“It’s been a great city to work in,” says Power, “and it’s been exciting being a part of the whole Super Bowl City area.”

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