Harris Instant-Replay System Plays Key Role in Super Bowl XLIV

The NFL instant-replay system was front and center on Sunday night at Super Bowl XLIV during an important review of a New Orleans Saints two-point conversion that was originally ruled incomplete but, upon review, was overturned as successful. And it was a combination of Harris Broadcast equipment and Bexel knowhow (plus some great camera work courtesy of CBS Sports and high-speed camera systems).

Compared with the regular season (and even playoff games), the NFL took extra precautions to ensure that the review system was more efficient than ever. First, two review systems were set up on the field, one on each sideline, near the 20-yard line (and diagonally across from each other). The typical game has one system.

“We also had a backup for each of those systems as well as a backup of all the electronics in the replay booth,” says Scott Nardelli, Bexel chief business development officer. “If the first system failed, we had a hot standby to go to immediately.”

Not many people know what exactly goes on beneath the hood on the sideline. On the field, the official has a replay monitor and a headset for communicating with replay officials up in the replay booth.  The Harris system records the plays and the replays broadcast by the network. Each replay is available via touchscreen interface. When a play is challenged, the referee on the field asks for specific replays to be reshown, rewound, stopped, etc.

Says Nardelli, “The referee on the field doesn’t have any controls or things to mess with, because it would make the system more clumsy.”