CBS Sports Ready for Cold, Ratings Gold With AFC Championship

CBS Sports will wrap up one of its most successful NFL seasons on Sunday night with the AFC Championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. And after last weekend’s Jets-New England Patriots game earned a 26.2 overnight rating (the largest in 14 years), expectations are high.

“Obviously, we are very happy with the ratings. but I am just as pleased with the quality of the work our teams have done,” says CBS Sports and News President Sean McManus. “Congratulations to all of our team, both in front of and behind the camera.”

He says the 2010 NFL season on CBS will conclude with two great teams with some of the biggest stars on both sides of the ball and compelling storylines: “In August, much of the discussion was how the Pittsburgh Steelers would react to the suspension of [quarterback] Ben Roethlisberger, and then there was all of the commotion around the New York Jets with [the HBO program] Hard Knocks, [head coach] Rex Ryan, and [the holdout of cornerback] Darrell Revis.”

Viewers can expect to see three high-speed cameras in use during the game on Sunday: one on a cart, one stationary, and a handheld super-slow-motion camera. “We will also have some additional regular cameras to get all of the reactions and great shots or the ball crossing the goal line,” says CBS Sports VP of Production Harold Bryant.

One more sideline cart than usual and the Skycam, as well as a fixed-wing aircraft, will also be on hand, according to Ken Aagaard, EVP, Engineering, Operations and Production Services, for CBS Sports. Thirty-seven cameras will be used, pumping signals to NEP’s SS24 production unit where 12 EVS systems with 37 record channels and 24 playback channels will capture all the action for replay needs.

“We cranked up the EVS a bit with an additional 12-16 channels,” he says.

For Lance Barrow, coordinating producer for the CBS Sports NFL coverage, this week is the culmination of a season when the crew of more than 160 men and women has brought something special to CBS coverage every week. “We’re just prepared for anything to happen, [which] means more tape machines, cameras so that, like in the Super Bowl [last year] in Miami, where there was the two-point conversion and the on-side kick, we had every angle to show what happened.”

The A team for CBS Sports’ NFL coverage has worked together for more than six years now, and Aagaard says the team continually figures out how to do things better: “The crew is terrific. They all know what they’re doing, and they’re not going to miss anything. They also don’t overdo it.”

Both the CBS Sports team and the Fox Sports team in Chicago, which is covering the NFC Championship between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, have an added challenge this weekend: keeping warm.

“The biggest thing is going to be the cold, and we will be doing anything to help our guys,” says Aagaard. It also means a change in procedure, such as moving a handheld camera into the locker room or interview area earlier to prevent such problems as fogged lenses.