NBC Sports Group Returns to Familiar Setting for 11th-Annual NHL Winter Classic
Coverage will highlight the iconic Notre Dame Stadium
NBC Sports Group will cover the 11th edition of the NHL Winter Classic on Tuesday as the annual outdoor tradition heads to the familiar confines of South Bend, IN. No stranger to Notre Dame Stadium — NBC has covered Fighting Irish home football games at the venue since 1990 — the Peacock production team plans to showcase the iconic stadium and its recent renovation during the Boston Bruins–Chicago Blackhawks faceoff.
“We’ll definitely lean into the stadium,” says Executive Producer Sam Flood. “We’re also thrilled it’s the new rebuild [of Notre Dame Stadium], where our trucks can be underground and protected from whatever elements are there. We know the building well, but we also know it continues to evolve and it’s one of the signature statements on the Notre Dame campus and all the great work they have done to construct it. We plan to make sure everybody gets a sense of how it all comes together.”
NEP’s ND4 (A, B, and C units) mobile unit will be on hand to serve the production, but NBC will also be leveraging its onsite resources from Notre Dame football shows. For example, NBC has its own production work space in the stadium, which means that the ops team did not have to rent an office trailer and furniture, freeing compound space.
“NBC’s familiarity with the venue is a major plus for us,” says James Stuart, senior director, sports operations. “There is plenty of infrastructure in the stadium that we are able to use and streamline our setup.”
NBC’s onsite set will be located in the northeast corner of the stadium with the rink as a backdrop in one angle and Notre Dame’s iconic Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus in another.
“What is new this year is that we do not have a structure keeping talent out of the elements,” says Stuart. “By not having this structure, we are able to take advantage of the campus setting and obtain multiple iconic backdrops.”
NBC Sports Group will deploy a total of 33 cameras (plus four feeds from the NHL and four from the venue) in South Bend, including eight 6X-slo-mo cameras (two hard, three handheld, three robos), four robos, two RF cams (one handheld and one MōVI), four POVs, and a jib. In addition, many of the tech toys that have become standard on the Winter Classic will be returning, including a Netcam system for each goal, a RefVu referee helmet cam, and a SkyCam system. Along with the SkyCam, the aerial shot provided by a fixed-wing plane will provide the one-of-a-kind shots that have become a signature of the Winter Classic.
“The key to this one is having the aerial,” notes Flood. “As I always like to say, the first replay ever blocked by a cloud was the Winter Classic in Buffalo. [We’re] looking forward to seeing that angle again, playing around with the [SkyCam] and all the lenses we’re using differently down low. [Director] Charlie Dammeyer deploys slightly longer lenses than the handheld in the corners, which we find to be a better way to catch action at the opposite end of the rink and should be a dynamic way to showcase everything that’s happening inside that rink.”