When CBS Sports rolls into Houston to set up for its broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVIII, there will be something noticeably missing compared to the last time the network covered the big game in 2001. There will be no SD-only teleproduction.
“Three years ago, we had two sets of everything,” said CBS executive vice president Martin D. Franks. “This year we will have a unified production vs. side-by-side (HD and SD productions).”
“This time, aside from a slight delay it will be the same production (both SD and HD) coming out of the same truck with the same crew.”
CBS Sports will produce the Super Bowl and AFC playoff in 1080i HDTV with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. It will downconvert to SD as well as broadcast the HD signal. The unified productions for the SD and HD telecasts will feature the same camera angles, replays, and graphics.
Sony Electronics will sponsor the HDTV broadcasts. The collaboration between CBS and Sony will allow the network to broadcast its NFL pre-game show, "The NFL Today," from the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 18; the network's Super Bowl XXXVIII pre-game show, "The Super Bowl Today," Feb. 1 and the “America Online Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show” in HDTV.
Currently, 151 CBS owned and affiliated stations broadcast digital television, covering about 91.5 percent of the nation.
For the most part, all the equipment CBS Sports needs to produce the Super Bowl in HD is available. This year as opposed to the CBS 2001 production of the Super Bowl, HD slow motion is available, although super slow motion is not. But other staples of football teleproduction, including copious graphics and the yellow first down line marker will be part of the HD presentation of the game.
“Three years ago,” said Franks, “I could have made the argument that it was more enjoyable to watch the analog production because you were getting the best crew. This year I can’t say that. Anyone who does not watch in HD will be missing something and that wasn’t true in 2001.”