CBS Sports Crosses Pond for NFL Game

By Ken Kerschbaumer
The National Football League is once again heading to London, and, this time, it’s CBS Sports that has the honor (or honour) of broadcasting the game between the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. CTV’s OB 9 unit — complete with 14 Sony HDC1500 HD cameras, a GVG Kalypso production switcher, and Calrec Alpha 100 OB console — will be at the center of the production, which will also serve as a host feed for BSkyB and others.
“We’re sending our A-level NFL team but will produce the game as a C-level production,” says Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports EVP, Operations and Production Services. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will be free of bells and whistles.
Fox Sports produced the game last year and helped CBS Sports out by providing notes on some of the issues that can confront a broadcaster, such as the limited space in the announcer’s booth. “Fox was exceedingly helpful,” says Aagaard.
Also helpful has been the NFL, which helped bring a Skycam to the broadcast. “That’s a big deal for Wembley Stadium, because they have never had a Skycam used there before,” says Aagaard. “But the NFL helped make that happen.”
Sportvision will supply the virtual–first-down line on-site. Originally, CBS planned to use the PVI virtual technology that is located in the CBS broadcast center and adds the line downstream from the broadcast production. BSkyB, however, wanted the first-down line for its viewers and worked out a deal with Sportvision.
One of the challenges will be converting a 1080i 50-frame-per-second signal to 1080i 60-frame-per-second. Conversion will be done in London with Harris gear, and a 1080i/60 signal will be sent back via satellite, with Genesis Networks supplying the backup. “Our techs are familiar with the Harris products,” says Aagaard, “and, by doing it on-site, they can easily compare the quality of what is going in and coming out.”