NFL Pro Bowl: ESPN Aims To Entertain With Annual Showcase of League’s Best

Four Sony HDC-4300 cameras will help capture the game on Sunday

The NFL returns to Orlando this week for its second-annual Skills Showdown (tonight, 9:00 p.m. ET) and 2018 NFL Pro Bowl (Sunday, 2:50 p.m.), and, despite the forecast for rain this weekend, the league’s top talent is expected to shine in this annual all-star showcase on ESPN. With only one more game left to play this season for the players involved and the ESPN production crew, everyone expects to have a little fun at the same time.

“The Monday Night Football team [broadcasts the Pro Bowl,] and I’ve been with the show for 18 seasons,” says ESPN Senior Operations Manager Steve Carter. “I love working with the people, and I love working with the NFL. It’s a game that can be a lot of fun, and we try to have fun doing it.”

Having moved from Honolulu to Orlando last year, the NFL Pro Bowl will again be played at Camping World Stadium. The mainland locale makes production planning significantly easier for the ESPN crew, which will deploy its Monday Night Football fleet — NEP’s EN-1 — and more than 200 staffers to cover the game.

For the first time, ESPN will have four Sony HDC-4300 cameras in its arsenal, running 360-480 fps. In total, it will surround Camping World Stadium with 20-25 cameras, including the 4300’s, SkyCam, and RF Steadicams. All six quarterbacks will be miked, as will selected coaches, centers, and tight ends.

The 2018 NFL Pro Bowl kicks off on ESPN at 2:50 p.m. following a special onsite Postseason NFL Countdown pregame show at 1:00, hosted by Suzy Kolber and featuring analysts Randy Moss and Charles Woodson and NFL Insider Adam Shefter. Reporter Michele Steele will also contribute.

ESPN Monday Night Football voice Sean McDonough will call the Pro Bowl with analyst Matt Hasselbeck, field analyst Louis Riddick, and reporter Lisa Salters. This is the 14th time the Pro Bowl has been on ESPN, and the telecast will also be available on ESPN Deportes, on the ESPN App, and simulcast on ABC.

Showing Off Their Skills
For the second year, the NFL begins its Pro Bowl festivities a few days early with the Skills Showdown. The event, which took place last night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, will air tonight on ESPN at 9:00 p.m.

The Skills Showdown featured the NFL’s all-stars competing in a variety of events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Kick-Tac-Toe, Gridiron Gauntlet relay race, Precision Passing accuracy competition, Best Hands catching competition, and the Drone Drop, in which one player from each team attempts to catch footballs dropped from drones at increasing heights above the field.

Operating out of the Wide World of Sports Production Center, ESPN captured the tape-delayed event using 12-14 cameras. Footage was sent to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, for voiceovers and editing as needed. Throughout the weekend, ESPN will rely on the team in Bristol for additional editing.

McDonough, Hasselbeck, and Salters will call the Skills Showdown from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.