CBS Sports' A-Team Returns for 2010 NFL Season
When it comes to CBS Sports' No. 1 NFL crew, it's all about continuity. For the seventh consecutive season, the network's top NFL game each Sunday will be under the watch of lead producer Lance Barrow and director Mike Arnold. In addition, the bulk of last season's crew will be back, along with play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and analyst Phil Simms, now in their seventh season together.
"Basically everybody is back for our A team, and, hopefully, we'll have a few more years on this run," says Barrow. "[CBS Sports President Sean McManus] talks a lot about stability. That's what we've tried to do with our crews and our No. 1 crew especially. I think continuity is a big thing in this business, and my crew really reflects that."
Seasons Change, but the Faces Remain the Same
For Barrow and Nantz, the kickoff of the football season is just the next chapter in their nearly year-round schedules at CBS. The two close friends spend more than 40 weeks per year together as lead producer and lead announcer for CBS Sports' golf and NFL coverage, making the month of August an interesting crossover for both.
"I've been doing golf all summer, but I don't think there's much of a switch [for football] in my position. I would imagine it's a bit different for [Nantz]," says Barrow. "We spend more time with each other than we do with our families. Many of our NFL production guys are also on golf, and about 60% of our NFL technicians are on our golf coverage. So we all know each other pretty well."
Nantz seconds that notion, saying that familiarity is extremely important on both sides of the camera. "Lance and I are great friends, and I think that really helps me do my job. We can really anticipate each other [on-air]. I can't tell you how much easier that makes things as a [broadcaster]. I'm very lucky to be working with him again this season."
SportsMEDIA Hits the Road With CBS Sports
The biggest change this season for CBS's top crew will be the on-site presence of SportsMEDIA Technology each week. In the past, PVI Virtual Media Services inserted graphics at CBS's broadcast center for all NFL telecasts, and SportVision supplied additional elements on-site. This year, however, the network has tapped SportsMEDIA to be on hand for each telecast, providing live data and graphics integration.
"For our A game, we wanted some extra features — like tracking the ball, player tracking, specialty stats that we could put on the field — and those have to be coordinated at the remotes," says Harold Bryant, VP of production for CBS Sports. "We looked at some of the stuff SportsMEDIA was doing and were very impressed. They can provide tracking elements and display them virtually right on the field."
Barrow believes that having SportsMEDIA readily available at each game site throughout the week will allow his team to delve deeper into storylines and create a more game-oriented graphics package.
"By having them [on-site], you can then talk to them throughout each week and for upcoming weeks about what new things they can bring," he says. "It's kind of like a think tank while you're all out there together. We can ask if they can do one of our ideas, or they might come to us with something new and ask us what we think. It's really trial and error sometimes; it's not absolute.
"Say we're doing a Bengals game," he adds, "and we want to be able to graphically show how TO and Ochocinco run their routes or how Tim Tebow has adjusted his throwing motion for a Broncos game. Those are things we can plan out now."
Bolder Look to Animations
CBS has also tweaked its opening animations and transition elements this season, as well as its overall graphics package.
"We revamped our animation package a bit," says Bryant. "We've gone back to a more gritty feel: darker colors with sort of an industrial, warehouse-like feel. Basically, our graphics package will stay the same with player stats., but we've enhanced our score ticker. We're trying to give a few more player stats and try to make it a little bit more crisp so viewers can automatically see what's going on."