Harris Gives NFL Refs HD Instant Replay

August 10, 2007
NFL referees might botch fewer calls than ever this year, thanks to a new high-definition picture system they’ll use when reviewing challenged rulings on the field or upstairs in the booth during the 2008-2009 season.

Powered by gear from Harris Corp., the move to HD comes 21 years after the league first began the video review process and is the first such use of HD in any major sports league.

The new HD instant replay systems have been installed in 28 NFL stadium replay booths, which are staffed by replay officials, a video technician, a video operator and a communicator. Booths at the three remaining NFL stadiums, in New York, Dallas and Indianapolis, will go HD after those stadiums are renovated. Harris also supplied two other HD instant replay systems for use by the NFL to train officials.

“This is a rare opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology to improve the integrity of the game,” said Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating. “Our referees will now be able to see images much more clearly, giving reviews in critical situations the level of scrutiny they truly deserve. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone - the coaches, players and the fans.”

Harris supplied the HD playback systems, software and services to upgrade the systems. Each stadium will use Harris NEXIO HD servers, FORCE software (Football Officiating Replay Challenge Expeditor), and routing and distribution equipment. The new HD systems replace existing Harris standard-definition instant replay systems that NFL referees have been using since 1999. NFL team owners voted in March 2007 to make instant replay permanent.

“Sports programming is leading the conversion to high definition,” said Tim Thorsteinson, president of Harris Broadcast Communications. “And within sports, I can think of no more exacting application than NFL replays, where the outcome of a team’s season may depend on the referee’s call.”

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