ALEXANDRIA, VA.—NBC Sports probably isn’t doing any endzone dances after its first full football broadcast using its SkyCam technology as the primary camera received mixed reviews.
After peaking fan’s curiosity during a game earlier this season between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons—and briefly again during a game between the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins—due to necessity, the SkyCam view was put to the test during this past week’s “Thursday Night Football” game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans. The view provides a north-south orientation of the field, presenting a more video-game like look than the traditional east-west camera set-up.
Fans were enthusiastic about the opportunity to see more of the SkyCam following these past instances, and NBC Sports obliged. However, once given a full look, fans were much more divided about whether or not this would indeed be the future of football.
Those who loved it praised its ability to show a play develop, providing a better understanding of scheme and players abilities.
“Why all networks don’t use the sky cam more often is beyond me. It’s the best view to watch plays develop, or play Madden,” wrote one Twitter user.
“I don’t understand why anyone would hate this angle. Every game should be skycam. This is EDUCATIONAL FOOTBAW. I have read zero concrete reasons to suppress the skycam other than small-minded fear,” another tweet proclaimed.
Others professed varying forms of undying love for the SkyCam, including one Twitter user comparing it to his surprising enjoyment of anchovies.
Those who disliked the new angle were just as vocal in their disapproval as well. A fan tweeted that SkyCam would “get me to stop watching football. Make camera angels great again!”
Even legendary sports anchors got in on the debate, as Brett Musburger had some not so cordial thoughts toward SkyCam. “Yo NBC Sports. Great job on intimate portrait of a Steelers game. Causal fans don’t give a s--- where safeties are positioned. Ratings are tied to fans, not future coaches.” (Edited for profanity)
Perhaps one of the more objective looks came from ESPN Senior Writer Mina Kimes, who tweeted that the view “Makes it easier to appreciate players’ talent and harder to gauge the outcome of every play.”
“We enjoyed the challenge of presenting last night's game with much of the live action covered by SkyCam,” an NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement released to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after the broadcast. “As we expected, there was a range of reaction as some fans have become accustomed to the traditional camera angles, while many others were excited to watch the game from a perspective that they've grown up with, but was new to television. We look forward to evaluating the telecast further in the coming days.”
There has been no word as to whether or not NBC Sports will do another game with SkyCam as its primary camera.
Ratings for the game, per NBC Sports, were 13.8 million in Total Audience Delivery across all platforms, which topped the previous week and the same timeframe last season. Viewership peaked at 15.2 million.
Oh, by the way, the Steelers won the football game 40-17.