Super Bowl Caps Off First Season for New Replay Review System as It Enters IP Era with Support of Bexel ESS

Bexel Engineered Systems and Solution was on hand at Super Bowl 50 in support of the instant replay system, a new system that was rolled out this season and includes a number of next-generation features, including the move to IP-based audio for communications and additional levels of redundancy.

Bexel's Scott Nardelli with the latest version of the NFL's instant replay system. Bexel installed the system in every NFL stadium this season.

Bexel’s Scott Nardelli with the latest version of the NFL’s instant replay system. Bexel installed the system in every NFL stadium this season.

“This season we have a primary and redundant system in each stadium and then there are three levels of redundancy within each of those systems, so it is basically redundant redundant redundancy,” explains Scott Nardelli, Bexel ESS, VP and GM. “For each of the two main systems there is a primary, backup, and safety rack so that, for example, if a software patch messes with the operation of the primary the system can run on the other two racks and have a backup. Then if the patch is okay it can be put on all three racks.”

The NFL this season built its own proprietary software system to manage the replay operations and Bexel ESS played the key support role in delivering 34 of the systems to all of the NFL stadiums. The systems are also now entirely fiber based and feature improved connectivity to the sideline WiFi system as well as new GreenGo IP-based intercom system.

“The system no longer uses two- or four-wire intercom systems and the move to all IP-based comms allows replay operations in New York to set up channels easily and monitor, control, and adjust the system,” adds Nardelli.

Also new this season is the ability to feed replays back to the NFL Review Command Center in New York City so that the officials there can walk through any replays. New Bose noise-cancelling headsets are another new addition to the replay operations.

Bexel ESS also played a part in the installation of venue transmission networks between the stadiums and NFL Films operations in Mt. Laurel, NJ.

“There is one VTN (Venue Transmission Network) cabinet at each stadium that allows NFL Films to pipe video back to Mt. Laurel for melts and transmit the replay video and communications to New York,” adds Nardelli. “For the Super Bowl we have three VTN cabinets to handle the high volume of video being shot by NFL Films and to provide system redundancy. The VTNs allow NFL Films to access and use video shot at the games almost instantaneously as opposed to waiting up to two days for the footage to arrive via overnight carrier.

The move to IP is not without its challenges, says Nardelli, as redundancies have to be built in and security improved with the use of encryption.

“You need to make sure you plan ahead so the unique aspects of working with IP don’t take you down,” he says.