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Super Bowl 50: EVS’ Xeebra makes its debut on NFL’s biggest stage

CUSTOMER PROFILE

The National Football League (NFL) consists of 32 professional American football teams across the United States. Each year, football enthusiasts and sports fans not only in the US but also across the world tune in for the year’s most-watched television event, the championship game of the NFL famously known as The Super Bowl. On the gridiron, these titans of sport clash as fans across the world tune in to the spectacle. Super Bowl 50 was the most watched ever, garnering a record-setting 111.9 million viewers.  The game, which was broadcast in 1080i, featured coverage from an unprecedented 70 cameras—a 75% increase from 2015—that were located around the stadium, including 11 Sony 4300 cameras operating in 8x super slow motion. 

THE CHALLENGE

Millions of eyes on screens and a coveted championship on the line place placed increased significance on the game’s officiating. So in addition to a fast, ultra-reliable EVS-led live production infrastructure, host broadcaster CBS wanted to ensure that talent in the broadcast booth had the most advanced technology available to review plays and judge tough calls made on the field. 

THE SOLUTION

EVS’ Xeebra multi-camera review system made its debut during Super Bowl 50, bringing extra power to the expert commentary from the broadcast booth.  With only minimal exposure to the tool, CBS officiating expert Mike Carey, a 13-year former NFL referee, used the solution alongside sportscasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to review every angle of any play.

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The intuitive touchscreen allowed Mike to have multiple screen views of continually synchronized content from up to 16 HD cameras at his fingertips. Through simple screen touches he was able to narrow his views from all 16 down to four, two or full screen - whichever angle was needed in the moment to help make the best, most informed decision. Mike used the tool’s dedicated controller for even more actions, including pinch and zoom, tactile jog dial, and to manage marked reviews at any time.

And using Xeebra’s detail-highlighting features, he was able to add expert opinion to the broadcast commentary, including making his own judgment of a controversial incomplete pass call on the field.  

Created for use by both officials and experienced operators, Xeebra is designed for extreme user flexibility. Its distributed server architecture and GigE link allows officials to sit wherever they want within the stadium while server equipment stays tucked out of sight.

In addition to Xeebra in the broadcast booth, EVS products formed the live production backbone at CBS’ sophisticated new onsite broadcast facility, with multiple 12-channel XT3 servers, IPDirectors, and  XTAccess systems. EVS systems—including more than 30 XT servers ranging from 12-channel systems to 4K-unitwith Epsio Zoom—supported NEP’s fleet of remote trucks and pre- and post-game show preparation. 

RESULTS

As in years’ past, EVS technology was an important player to the broadcast. But Super Bowl 50 marked the first time a tool for multicamera review brought game-changing analysis capabilities for referees and officials. 

“Xeebra’s functionality is superb. I can go frame-by-frame or slow motion, backward or forward. It has all the manipulations I could ever need. It took me from the Stone Age to supersonic speed, and speed is the most important thing in this game." 

Mike Carey, NFL Officiating Expert

EVS’ Xeebra referee live replay system debuted to rave reviews from Mike Carey. He could view and analyze plays in more clarity and detail than ever before, validating and enhancing his observations and the viewing experience for fans tuning in.  “Tools like Xeebra have made every aspect of the game better – the way players play, coaches coaches coach, and officials officiate,” he said.

Not only could Mike make easy instant action recalls, Xeebra’s client/server architecture also enabled him to sit in the broadcast booth alongside CBS on-air talent rather than in the technical broadcast center.

Mike continued, “The appetite of fans for knowledge, not just for the players and the game but for the intricacies of the rules is insatiable.  The latest technology is capturing action on the field like never before and people are eating it up. It’s unbelievably exciting.”

For EVS, Xeebra represents an extension of technology once reserved just for broadcasters.

And Mike agrees that today’s technology advances and live sports are inextricably intertwined. “Video and live sports are inseparable today. We are sensory animals and it’s all about the visual in live sports. Technology is capturing sports like football like it’s never done before and people are eating it up “