Football fans are about to get a bird’s-eye view of gridiron proceedings when they tune in to NBC.
The network plans to offer stunning overhead shots thanks to the use of a C360 camera that will be stationed on the bottom of the event’s SkyCam and can provide zoom-in shots of specific players as well as wide looks of plays along the sidelines or views of players on the line of scrimmage. The camera shoots in 8K and records in a 180-degree immersive field of view, and has already been used in NBC Sports’ Nascar broadcasts.
“You’re able to now really scan the entire field, but do it in an intimate way,” says Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of “Sunday Night Football,” in an interview. His team will even be able to freeze an overhead image, then zoom in on a player’s hands if possession becomes an issue, or pan down on a player’s feet to see if there’s a debate about going out of bounds.
The new technology is just one of a handful of changes NBC is making to what is arguably the most important program on its schedule. “Sunday Night Football” is the most-watched regular program in TV’s primetime, and, in the midst of a pandemic, will likely be critical to NBC’s attempts to field big audiences in a season when many scripted shows have yet to into production because of limitations imposed by the coronavirus.
The average cost of a 30-second ad in “Sunday Night Football” tends to hover between $600,000 and $700,000, according to media buyers. NBC declined to comment on the prices it is seeking for this season, but “NFL sales are strong. Our bookings and conversations are heating up and we’re very pleased with our pacing especially since we’ve added more inventory with the new Wild Card game,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “Advertisers, including many non-traditional NFL spenders, continue to recognize that the NFL is one of the few places that can still deliver massive reach amidst a fracturing media environment.”
This year’s “Sunday Night Football” won’t look like 2019’s. The network has already taped a new opening segment for the program that features singer Carrie Underwood and user-generated content from fans – a nod to social-distancing measures mandated by coronavirus restrictions.
The new high-tech camera angles will be visible starting Thursday, September 10 with the network’s broadcast of the NFL Kickoff Game. The new technology will then be utilized throughout the season. ” As a secondary camera on SkyCam, we anticipate capturing a fresh perspective of the game over the trenches,” said Evan Wimer, co-founder of C360 Technologies, in a prepared statement.
Don’t expect mastery of the gee-whiz took on the first day. “We have not been able to have any kind of warm up,” says Gaudelli. “There will have to be a little bit of a ramp-up until we all get used to how it works.” But he thinks he can give the audience new “isolation shots” of players such as Dallas Cowboys guard Zach Martin or Los Angles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
The new camera will also aid NBC Sports’ Cris Collinsworth as he offers takes on plays, says Gaudelli, envisioning a frozen image of a play on the field that can be manipulated to show viewers very small details.
In the past, Gaudelli would have to use the SkyCam for an overhead shot of an important player, “and then I lost SkyCam for another part of the play.” Now, he says, the audience “will get intimate views of what players do and how they do it.”