Live From Super Bowl LII: Patriots’ ‘Not Done Network’ Takes Over Mall of America With Dual-Set Fan Activation
Multiplatform network runs 24/7, offers 12 hours of live content per day
As a sports franchise, the New England Patriots have a tendency to raise the bar. This year, at Super Bowl LII, the team’s in-house content-production company is doing the same in the video-production game.
In a massive fan activation near Radio Row at Mall of America in Minnesota, the team has launched the “Not Done Network,” a 24/7 multiplatform video-content–delivery machine designed to bring Patriots fans from around the world inside the action of Super Bowl Week. It marks the first time that a team entity has gone to these lengths, creating a team-specific live-content service designed solely to feed the appetite of a fanbase looking forward to a Super Bowl appearance.
“This is a labor of love,” says Robyn Glaser, VP, The Kraft Group/club counsel, New England Patriots. “This is a gift from the Kraft family to the fans of New England. Without them, we’re nothing. It was very important to create opportunities for fans to connect to the team.”
The Not Done Network hits virtually every major video-distribution platform – Patriots.com, the Patriots app, the team’s YouTube Channel, a Twitter Live Event Page — and is even available over linear: the team partnered with Verizon Fios to create a channel for Fios subscribers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island (Fios Channel 601).
“We’re saying, ‘Put it everywhere.’” explains Fred Kirsch, publisher/VP, content, Kraft Sports Productions. “You can’t expect people to come to you anymore; you have to go to them. For some people, if it doesn’t happen on their social feed, it doesn’t exist.”
He is overseeing the production and operations end of the onsite setup. With the help of Senior Executive Producers Matt Smith and David Mandillo, in addition to a team of more than 80 fulltime staffers and local Minnesota-based freelancers, the Not Done Network is churning out 12 hours of live content per day from a pair of sets at Mall of America.
On the backend, the Patriots are working with Wowza Media Systems as its CDN (content-delivery–network) partner on live broadcasts, which are transmitted to Gillette Stadium via IP and the Game Creek Video trailer parked downstairs at Mall of America. The feeds receive one last layer of graphical overlay at the broadcast center in Foxboro, MA, before being fed into encoders and handed off to Wowza for cloud-based processing and delivery. Within its network, Wowza accounts for adaptive-bitrate packages and scales programming, securing the viewing experience across the Not Done Network’s long list of available platforms.
The space was a challenging one. It was essentially a blank slate; there wasn’t even any electricity. The Patriots had considered traditional options like a restaurant or sports bar, but the ability to use the size for a fan activation area (with lounge chairs, cornhole boards, board games, TVs, etc.) made it a hard offer to pass up.
“When it came down to it, [using] this place in the Mall [is] a heavy lift, but we can turn it into a fan engagement area as well. Plus, it’s close to where the players are, close to Radio Row, so we can bring in guests.”
Glaser and Kirsch are quick to thank the Mall of America because this massive undertaking required an ultra-quick turnaround. The two sides were on the phone finalizing plans and offering set renderings the night following the AFC Championship Game.
“[Mall of America is] a very well-run organization that could accommodate our needs,” says Glaser. “They have more than delivered for us. We’ve had to rely very heavily on some people outside of our organization who have delivered more than we ever could have expected.”
The Not Done Network will see its plan at the Mall of America through until Saturday night, a herculean effort for a production group that believes that it’s not a secret sauce but elbow grease that makes it all possible.
“When you put on a 24/7 network, there’s no shortcut,” says Kirsch. “There isn’t any magic here. It’s just hard work.”