New York Giants Look Forward with Look Back at 1986 Season

As the lockout-shortened offseason sent NFL production teams across the country into hyperdrive, the New York Giants emerged from the work stoppage fully prepared to produce in-game entertainment, television programming, and web content for the 2011 season. You might say that the Giants have been preparing for the 2011 season for 25 years.

“This is the 25th anniversary of the great 1986 team that won the Super Bowl, our first Super Bowl,” says Don Sperling, VP and executive producer of New York Giants Entertainment. “We’re bringing back the 1986 Giants this year, and we’re going to be celebrating all season long.”

Formulating two plans of action during the lockout – a plan for the players returning and a plan for the players not returning – Sperling, alongside Production Manager Christine Baluyot and Digital Media Manager Nilay Shah, will enhance fans’ game day experience, roll out new television programming, and increase social media presence.

The New York Giants kick off their home schedule on Sept. 19, in a Monday night matchup against the St. Louis Rams. At half time, the 1986 team will take the field as part of a season-long celebration of Super Bowl XXI.

Enhancing the New Meadowlands Experience

In their second season at New Meadowlands Stadium, Sperling and his team look to improve upon the successes of their first season.

“You learn what works,” says Sperling. “[You see] what your fans have reacted to, what your sponsors like, and what you like. You can always get better.”

The Giants will be using the five-channel approach implemented last season, while continuing to experiment and expand. One channel will broadcast to the twenty screens on ten two-sided pylons that surround the stadium. The pylons, which vary from 40 to 60 feet in height, will carry the Giants’ programming, sponsorship integration, and, for later starts, the NFL RedZone channel.

The second channel will broadcast to the 2,200 IPTV flat screens, located on the concourse, in the suites, and at the concession stands, while the third channel controls the LED ribbon boards that wrap around the stadium.

The fourth and fifth channels control the in-stadium A and B Daktronics boards, respectively. The A show, broadcast on two boards alternately across the field, features the game, replays, fan prompts, and feature programming. The B show provides out-of-town scores, fantasy information, and player statistics.

With so many channels, programming, and statistical information at their disposal, Sperling and his team will continue to experiment.

“The A show will take over all four boards if we’re on a big drive or it’s third down or we want to get the fans excited,” explains Sperling. “I would say the A show takes over [on all four boards] probably 60-70% of the time.” But as for determining the ratio between the A and B boards, he says, “there are some lessons there.”

This season, the Giants will add a second CrossFire to a state-of-the-art control room that already boasts two EVS replay servers, two Harris G7 Inscriber character generators, a switcher and board for the A and B boards, and seven cameras.

Entertaining Giants Fans All Week Long

Expanding their partnership with MSG Network, the Giants will produce seven shows in-house that will air on the regional cable channel throughout the week. This season, the Giants’ flagship pregame and postgame programs will broadcast live from the stadium before and after every home game.

Opening Drive Live will combine live pregame analysis and strategy discussions with video from the players arriving to New Meadowlands and a pre-taped segment with Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

“It’s really unique,” says Sperling, “because it’s going to evolve from the stadium and we’re going to be able to do hits out into the parking lot [and] broadcast on giants.com.”

Giants Postgame will air live from the stadium following each home game on My9, joining the year-round Giants Access Blue on the Secaucus, NJ-based network. For away games, both live programs will shift operations to the television studio in the Timex Performance Center on the grounds of New Meadowlands.

Complimenting the live flagship programming and year-long Giants Access Blue magazine-style show, the Giants’ programming slate will include New York Giants Chronicles, featuring interviews from integral members of the 1986 Super Bowl team, including Phil Simms, Carl Banks, Harry Carson, Bill Parcells, and Bill Belichick.

In addition to partnering with two networks to produce nine television shows, Sperling and his team work with Tupelo-Honey Productions to bring the Giants’ preseason to the fans.  Adding a third network to the mix – New York’s Channel 4 – the Giants’ production crew will produce three preseason contests in-house: at Carolina last Saturday, hosting the Jets on Aug. 27, and visiting New England on Sept. 1. The Giants face the Chicago Bears in a nationally televised game on Aug. 22.

Connecting to the Giants Whenever, Wherever

The season, the Giants plan to increase their focus on their social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, and a new mobile app.

The Giants produce approximately 60 online features a week, including both television programming and exclusive web content.  One of the NFL’s leaders in Facebook followers, Sperling and his team plan to aggregate that Facebook following with the Twitter feed and web content for the mobile app, which will be used in tandem with the Giants’ current production ventures.

“We’ll be able to take that mobile app and integrate it with our live game, on our [in-stadium] video boards, along our ribbon boards, on our TV screens, [and] outside on the boards,” says Sperling.

Ready for Football in 2011

With one preseason production under their belt, the New York Giants look forward to the remaining preseason schedule and the 2011 regular season with an enhanced in-game experience, new programming initiatives, increased social media presence, and new mobile app.  The lockout may have shortened their offseason preparation time, but with all the Giants have planned for fans this season, you’d never know it.

“In previous years, we had more time to execute upon our plans, so our time shrunk,” says Sperling, of his team’s preparation for 2011 season. “It just gets a little more hectic – the days get longer and the hours get intense – but that’s our business. You just gotta be flexible, and it’ll all get done.”