Live From Super Bowl LII: NBC Sports Regional Networks Are All About Synergy in Minneapolis
Boston, Philadelphia RSNs are onsite, collaborating and sharing resources to mutual benefit
Super Bowl LII has been a perfect storm in the best possible way for NBC Sports Regional Networks. Not only is the Peacock mothership carrying the big game itself, but both competitors are from cities that are home to its RSNs. NBC Boston and NBC Philadelphia are taking full advantage, collaborating on both programming and onsite sets at Radio Row at the Mall of America all week and at U.S. Bank Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.
“It’s been nothing short of extraordinary working with all of the NBC entities as well as the unbelievable turnout of Eagles fans here,” says Michelle Murray, VP, content, NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Between NBC Sports Boston, our local news stations, as well as tapping into any other [NBCUniversal] resources, it’s a huge synergistic effort for everything from technical [operations] all the way through content creation.”
For Kevin Miller, VP, content creation and strategy, NBC Sports Boston, the collaboration became part of a plan. “As we go into the year — and people hate us for this — we actually plan on being here,” he says, referring to the Patriots’ seemingly annual trips to the Super Bowl. “We’re lucky enough to budget for [a presence at the Super Bowl] a little bit and start planning for it. As it was coming down the stretch and the Eagles were having a great season, we could see that our paths could collide at some point, and we started working with [NBC Sports Boston]. And Michelle and their whole team have been amazing partners.”
At Radio Row: Two Sets, One Flypack, Plenty of Synergy
Throughout the week, the Boston and Philadelphia RSNs shared two studios on Radio Row at the Mall of America. The primary set featured three robotic cameras and relied on a flypack system used regularly by NBC Sports Boston, sending feeds to control rooms at the two RSNs’ respective home facilities, where the shows were produced.
“We have used flypack for all the shows on this set for both [networks],” says Miller. “It’s worked out great because it allowed us to avoid having to light up the truck at night and be able to keep operators here longer throughout the day.”
NBCSN’s PFT Live also used this studio each morning this week but pulled up a full mobile unit rather than using the flypack.
The branding in the front of the desk was easily swapped out for the network using the set. The branding of the second set on the opposite side of Radio Row could also be customized, not only for Boston and Philadelphia but also for live Super Bowl hits by other NBC RSNs.
At the Stadium: Pregame Will Feature On-Air Talent Crossover
This afternoon, Boston and Philly have a tented set outside U.S. Bank Stadium for their respective pregame coverage. NBC Sports Boston will pretape two hours of pregame at the set (which CNBC also used for a live show on Friday evening) to air at 1-3 p.m. ET, and NBC Sports Philadelphia will be live from the set at 3-5 p.m. At that point, the two will come together for a one-hour combo show featuring on-air talent from both markets leading up to kickoff.
“We will have selected analysts that we’ve paired strategically going head to head [in debates],” says Murray. “And there is a voting component that the fans will be able to interact and decide who wins. Both of our production teams have been working on it very hard, and it should be really fun. “
As for postgame, Boston will man the same outdoor set, and Philly will be inside the stadium, producing its show from NBC Sports’ Coach’s Clicker set (the two live-streamed a coin flip to determine who would get the interior set).
“It’s been a team effort even down to our proverbial coin flip for our locations during game day,” says Murray. “Kevin and I get to tap into that rivalry of Boston and Philly: destiny vs. dynasty. On the backend, we even have a wager between our two markets that tie in our sponsors for the show as well. Whoever loses has to get the other one breakfast on parade day in the other team’s market.”
From the Mothership to RSNs, It’s All Hands on Deck
NBC Sports’ operations team has also played a major role in the two RSNs’ success in Minneapolis.
“Once it became official,” says Miller, “the mothership at NBC Sports really got involved and saw that this was a great opportunity for all of us and offered any support that we needed. Since NBC has the game this year, they were able to give us some areas that we normally wouldn’t have, especially the sets inside and outside the stadium. They’ve been very supportive from the top down, and, even this week, they’ve had boots on the ground helping us out with coordination and integration.”
In addition to NBC Sports, RSNs from across the country are chipping in, including a tech operator from NBC Sports Bay Area, two producers from Mid-Atlantic, photographers from Chicago and Bay Area, and others.
Adds Miller, “It really has had a very collaborative feel from start to finish.”