NBC Sports Preps for Big Apple Showdown as NHL Winter Classic Turns 10
While Sidney Crosby’s unforgettable shootout goal to win the very first Winter Classic for the Pittsburgh Penguins might seem like yesterday, that memorable matchup in snowy Buffalo between the Penguins and the Sabres was 10 years ago. And, in the decade that has followed, NBC Sports has continued to up the production ante year after year, adding aerial camera shots, super slo-mo cameras, RefCam, and many other tools to capture the spectacle of the NHL’s now-iconic annual outdoor game.
“The key lesson we learned in year one was that an airplane makes for great TV,” recalls NBC Sports Group Executive Producer Sam Flood. “It’s symbolic of our overall philosophy that the Winter Classic is not just a game, it’s an event. We avoid traditional coverage patterns. Since the inaugural game, we’ve added a Cablecam, which provides a unique perspective coverage over the ice. We’ve also used different lenses on handhelds in the corners, allowing us to stay on the puck for longer as it leaves the zone.”
This year’s Winter Classic will be played at Citi Field – home of the New York Mets – on January 1, 2018. The New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres – each making their second appearance in the Winter Classic – will face off at 1:00 p.m. ET.
NBC Sports will have NEP’s ND4 A, B, and C units on site in New York City, and deploy 33 cameras to cover the game, including six hard cameras (one super-slo-mo), seven handheld cameras (three super-slo-mo), three handheld studio cameras, a jib, an RF handheld camera, an RF MOVI Steadicam, three super-slo-mo robotic cameras, two in-net cams, one RefCam, one SkyCam, one aerial camera (most likely in a helicopter), four POV cameras, and two NHL feeds.
Over the past 10 years, NBC Sports has added to its production complement, increasing the number of super-slo-mo cameras and RF cameras, and boosting its file-transfer capability with Stamford.
“It’s fun to see it evolve,” says Flood. “It was fun that first goal being scored [in 2008] and us taking the first replay from an airplane. Someone in the truck said, ‘well, you can’t see the puck go in the net.’ I said, ‘first time ever you’ve had a replay from an airplane in a hockey game.’ So, a series of firsts that made it fun, made it exciting, and the perfect end to that first game with a shootout goal by the young new star of the game in Sidney Crosby. And now, we’ll have the Rangers in the shadow of New York City, which will be a lot of fun.”