NBC’s broadcast of last night’s Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game was the first to rely on the SkyCam for a majority of the action. It was an irritating, jarring change to some and a long-needed one for others.
UPDATE: It turns out Musburger was a fan and myself and others interpreted his comments to mean something other than he intended.
Look, there are some obvious drawbacks to the SkyCam angle. Running plays were harder to follow and quickly assessing yardage gained was more difficult. At times it was dizzying, especially for those not accustomed to playing hours of video games. For all of these reasons, I do not expect SkyCam to ever completely replace the traditional camera presentation as the norm — even though passing plays were significantly more enjoyable than usual.
Musburger argues that casual fans don’t care about defensive alignment and, when presented with that information, will choose not to watch a game. That seems like quite a stretch. Then again, we are living in a time when people can choose their own narrative as it relates to NFL ratings.
The idea that only future football coaches care about where players are situated on the field doesn’t make any sense. A casual fan cares precisely because there is no football acumen needed to understand what’s happening when the visual information is made available.
Think about it.
Here is Marcus Mariota’s first interception. Being able to gauge where Steelers safety Mike Hilton was proved to be rather useful information. The viewer — even one without any football knowledge — could clearly see that Mariota’s pass was going to be too high for the intended receiver.
Here is Antonio Brown’s first touchdown catch. The viewer, thanks to SkyCam, can clearly see that he has inside position on the cornerback and that the safety will have trouble getting over in time to make a play.
Both plays from the traditional broadcast angle would not have been as clear to diagnose as a success or failure. Again, it does not take some thorough understanding of football to understand these things. All it takes is having a pair of eyes.
If anything, SkyCam allows the casual fan to have a more comprehensive understanding of the game without putting in the legwork. A lot of the stuff is intuitive.
Musburger has likely forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know. And yet, I found last night’s broadcast to be illuminating and enjoyable because it offered an opportunity to see things develop in real time. It turned the All-22 into an accessible and digestible product. It drew me — more a casual fan that X-and-O savant, in as opposed to pushing me away.