The Value of A TV Minute

(Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the advance production work it all the way through to the actual broadcast. At Redskins Park, I’ve been meeting with producer Brad Baker. And part 2.)

When I watched the behind-the-scenes of player introductions, one of the things that struck me as slightly funny was the game officials grabbing PR director Will Norman and arguing with him over a minute’s difference in the start time of the game. It seemed like a relatively small thing to me, and it felt strange that so much time was spent arguing over it.

“Oh, man, a minute is incredibly valuable on TV,” says Brad Baker. “That’s a tremendous amount of time.”

The best-laid plans for a broadcast.

The best-laid plans for a broadcast.

This question has resurfaced because the Carolina Panthers do their preseason pregame a little differently from other NFL teams, and it’s wreaking havoc on Brad’s scheduling for the opening to the TV broadcast. He calls producer Rich Wolff to explain.

“I haven’t gotten the full timeline yet,” he says, “but Zack [Bolno, executive director of communications] did send me the anthem time and the coin flip time, and we’ve got a little problem in that the anthem is going to happen at 7:32.”

Wolff understands the implication immediately, and he’s not happy about it: the broadcast is scheduled to begin at 7:30, with an open and graphics that take just about 1:45 to run, which means they’ll essentially be going to a live feed just as the anthem begins. And part of not speaking over the anthem includes not having your broadcasters declaiming about the game in loud voices over the anthem.

“The only thing that comes to mind,” Brad says, “is that we might have to tape the open.”

Neither one likes this idea. At all. Both of these guys take a tremendous amount of pride in their work, and a major point of producing a live television program is that it’s, well, live. They explore various options, trying to use as little pre-recorded footage as possible — just taping Kelli Johnson’s segment, or Brett Haber’s — but none of these option seem satisfactory.

“If we tape it,” Brad says to me, “you’re looking at shots of empty stands and very few players on the field.”

The only option that sounds remotely appealing is trying to move the anthem time itself, which strikes me as a mighty dramatic solution to the problem.

“I actually got the kickoff time for our home game moved,” Brad says. “It had to go through the owner and everyone, but it happened. If I can get more stuff into the open, why not? Also, this is what it was when we did the preseason games last year, so it wasn’t such a dramatic change.”

With that in mind, he calls the Panthers’ staff … and gets voicemail. He leaves a message explaining the situation, hangs up the phone, and turns to me, shrugging. “It’s Wednesday, late in the morning. If they don’t get back to me by this afternoon,” he says, “I guess we have to go with plan B.”


As always, I’m happy to bring any questions you have to the people involved. So if you have any questions for Brad, Mike Patrick, or Joe Theismann — please let me know, either via email or in the comments.


11 Responses

  1. Cool stuff. As in the game itself- it’s all about timing!
    Have a great day!

  2. Hey Matt,

    I have to admit, when I first found this site, I was starving for Redskins FOOTBALL material. But I have to say, you have chosen some pretty interesting things to outline in this blog, and I have been really enjoying it!!

    This series about the production is incredible to me. This is the type of stuff we, as fans, have no idea about. But having this stuff amplified a little bit has been great! I have found myself checking for updates what seems like every 15 minutes.

    Keep it up!

  3. this blog couldn’t be any worse. I

  4. I’m really surprised they don’t just go ahead and tape the opening.

  5. Matt,

    Couldn’t agree more than with Chris, the behind the scences reads that you provide are a “cool” glimpse into our favorite area team.

    Junction, if you want a blog that covers the team and its perfomance on the field, read down the whole right side of this page, it provides you with more than enough links to last a couple of minutes.

    Or, you could of course start your own blog and realize for yourself that many more people care about what Matt writes than what you care.

    Keep up the good writing Matt!

  6. A Joe T. question:

    Why are you such a self-serving, know-it-all phony, who never shuts up?

    Thank you.

  7. D. Johns- Can it! U skinz hater!

    Joe T. has more football knowledge in his pinkie than you have in your whole, empty head!

    And unlike starz of the Cowboys, Bengals & Raiders or their fans, he hasn’t used drugs, ‘roids or beaten his wife or girlfriend.

    So lay the F— off, cowgirl punk!

  8. Wow.

    You guys are so intimidated, that you think EVERY negative comment is from a Cowboys fan.

    Not from any of the other 30 teams in the league, huh? Not from any within a reasonable driving distance?
    Better yet, ask yourself where would someone have to live to be subjected to that a-hole “Joey T.” to discern that he’s a ” self-serving, know-it-all phony, who never shuts up?”

  9. Matt,

    Keep ’em coming. Your getting on a great info roll and we like it a lot. Great job!!

  10. Wow it is so interesting to actually find out what you do all day!

  11. […] Terl At this point, most everyone knows their marching orders. Everyone’s up to speed on the problems with the timing of the anthem and the resulting taped open. This is just the final review, the last time to get Joe Theismann, Mike Patrick, producer Brad […]

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