Super Bowl XLIV pits the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Indianapolis Colts (IndyStar coverage) against the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New Orleans Saints (NOLA coverage) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2009 season.
With an expected 150 million plus viewers in the United States, and millions more from 230 countries and territories worldwide, it is a premiere global television event.
Nearly two of three U.S. consumers now own an HDTV (pdf), and within the next year or two, that figure is expected to rise to three-quarters of all consumers.
CBS intends to make the most of it. They are deploying 50 high definition cameras with about 500 staffers and a convoy of production trucks. Pittsburgh-based mobile production company NEP will assist CBS, using a fleet of production trucks.
Sony HDC-1500 cameras are the backbone of CBS NFL coverage. The 50 HD cameras include 21 hard (stationary) cameras, four $118,000 Sony Super-Slo-Mos, three cabled handhelds, two handheld SloMos, two RF handhelds, one RF Steadicam, one Skycam robotic overhead camera, six ultra-high-frame-rate cameras, two robotic goal-post cameras, two robotic coach’s cameras, two booth-talent cameras (one robotic), one unmanned camera (for inside beauty shots), two clock cameras, and one robotic camera for outside beauty shots mounted on a nearby tower.
New for Superbowl XLIV:
- Six, X-Mo ultra-high-frame-rate cameras with a mass of networked EVS replay servers to record feeds from them and every other game camera. The modified Vision Research Phantom V640 cameras, from Inertia Unlimited will capture images at over 500 frames per second.
- Sportvision will provide a new tracking system which provides the virtual first-down line system. It will draw a virtual line extending up from each goalpost and provides a vertical look of whether the football crossed the plane of the goal post itself.
- Orad’s MVP (Motion Video Play) graphics tracking system and its HyperZoom feature, which can create a magnifying-glass effect over a portion of the screen.
- An internal Gig-E network at CBS allows the EVS systems to connect to two separate Avid Unity storage systems and receive edited packages as files at a data rate of 100 megabits per second, using Avid’s DNxHD mezzanine compression system.
- CBS will use Level 3 fiber for uncompressed high-definition (HD) television directly to CBS in New York, transported across the Level 3 Vyvx services platform. Comcast typically sacrifices HDTV quality to “sell” more channels than satellite TV. Avsforum viewers say FiOS provides the best picture.
They previewed the new service on Sunday 31 January, becoming the first TV company to broadcast a live 3D sports event to a public audience.
Sony’s 4K Digital Cinema is waiting in the wings. New cameras like the Arriflex D-20 can capture 2K resolution images, while the Red One can record 4K redcode RAW. But you won’t be able to see it live.
Unlike NBC, which made a huge commitment to streaming technology at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games using Microsoft’s Silverlight, CBS and the NFL have turned a blind eye towards streaming. Nevertheless, Justin.tv, Ustream.tv or atdhe.net are expected to be live streaming (something).
Sirius XM Satellite Radio will have 14 game feeds in ten different languages for subscribers while NFL FieldPass will have pay audio feeds as well.
In the media room, Concept Matters will have six tech support specialists on hand to help fix reporter’s problems — like a computer crash in the middle of a story. They are also providing loaner laptops for emergencies. ProPublica reporter Marcus Stern will don his press badge at the Super Bowl this Sunday, but he won’t be covering the game. He’ll be looking for members of Congress who are there, figuring out how they got their tickets.
But the greatest demand comes from the tech-savvy fans. Cellphone carriers are tripling capacity near the stadium.
The last time the Super Bowl came to Miami, in 2007, organizers said it attracted more than 100,000 visitors. Halftime is especially stressful for cellphone carriers. All at once, practically everyone in the stadium will be sending photos, video and text messages to their friends.
Sprint’s NFL Mobile Live is available on more than 100 Sprint mobile devices, with in-depth playoff and Super Bowl XLIV analysis, big play audio coverage and behind-the-scenes access to Super Bowl XLIV parties. V-CAST Mobile TV from Verizon has exclusive Super Bowl coverage with packages start at $13 a month for a variety of channels.
Sprint has invested $2.3 million just on communication technology for the big game. During the last Miami Super Bowl, Sprint and Nextel’s call volume increased more than 275 percent and 325 percent, respectively, according to the company. Sprint is adding four COWs near the stadium and one in Miami Beach. AT&T said it is adding three in the parking lot, and Verizon has installed what it calls a permanent “super system” at Sun Life Stadium. There will be two base stations and extra antenna arrays on the stadium — the total project costing about $1 million.
Sunday will be the first time AT&T is adding a fourth layer of traffic capacity to its cell site inside the stadium, increasing the stadium’s support for AT&T customers by 280 percent. ADC installed the new microcells.
ADC’s InterReach Fusion, InterReach Unison, and FlexWave Prism provide a distributed antenna systems for voice and broadband. Unlike a Cell on Wheels, ADC’s system breaks the stadium into dozens of microcells, providing more throughput for users.
Security will be tighter than ever at Super Bowl 44. More than 50 law enforcement agencies — some of them having planned for as long as 18-months — will be involved in a massive effort to keep one of the world’s biggest sporting events safe from terror attacks. Coast Guard fast boats patrol the waterfront, while Homeland Security choppers and military fighters scan some 50 miles of coastline. On game day, they’ll enforce a 30-mile “no-fly” bubble around Sun Life stadium.
US Fleet Tracking will track scores of VIP vehicles coming and going with their $399 device. No one without a ticket or credential will be allowed inside the security zone. Bomb-sniffing dogs and high-tech devices will be used to detect chemical or biological threats. The Department of Homeland Security has designated it a ‘level one’ national security event. Katie Couric takes a closer look (video). BridgeWave will use its AR80 gigabit wireless gear to support video surveillance traffic.
CBS has sold all available spots for the broadcast. Prices for a thirty-second ad spot are between $2.5 million to $2.8 million, less than NBC’s high of $3 million during 2009, but demand has been stronger than expected.
Mancrunch’s attempt to land a Super Bowl spot with their gay dating site created controversy when CBS decided to air an anti-abortion ad starring football star Tim Tebow. The right-wing commercial was shot with a Red One Camera from Red One Florida. It will air five times during the Super Bowl.
Advertisers like ManCrunch are playing up their controversial Super Bowl spots in social media channels. It never made it to air, but scored bigtime anyway. Mashable says 2010 is the year social media and the Super Bowl are officially converging.
Some 148 million people are expected to watch the game in the U.S., 60 million of them women. That’s still not even half the country. Who are all those holdouts? According to ARS they over-index both as white and African-American. They’re less likely to have children. Some 67% are female.
Brands who have built platforms to engage consumers after the game is over are the real winners. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting platforms used by Superbowl advertisers.
Research from Burst Media found that the Web is now the place more people go for sports news, with more than a third of men (36.1 percent) and slightly less women in the study (32.7 percent). That’s followed by local TV programming (23.7 percent), national TV networks (15.1 percent), local newspapers (6.7 percent), national newspapers (3.6 percent) and sports radio (2.9 percent) — for both men and women.
Among the key age segments of 18-24 years and 25-34 years, the Internet far outweighs both local and national TV coverage as the primary source of sports news and information, according to a survey. Adults 55 years and older still turn to local TV news over the Internet. Yet despite all of the hype over online video services, more than one-half (55 percent) of all respondents indicated that they have never watched live streaming game coverage on the Internet.
More info at ESPN.com, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News Sports Shooter, NYTimes.com, and other Sports Television Networks. Yahoo Full Coverage and Google News have additional news and links.
UPDATE: Superbowl XLIV was the most-viewed program in U.S. television history, drawing a 45.0/68 national rating and 106.5 million viewers on CBS Sunday night.
Just five years ago, Super Bowl XXXIX drew only 86.1 million viewers on FOX. From 1999-05, the Super Bowl drew less than 90 million viewers each year.