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Scott D. Pierce: CBS has 62 Super Bowl cameras; too much Harbaughs?

Published January 29, 2013 2:51 pm

Sports on TV • Network sports chief promises brothers angle won't overwhelm telecast.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

You can't have too many cameras at Super Bowl XLVII. And you can have too much of the Harbaugh brothers. Which is why CBS is promising lots of the former and just the right amount of the latter.

The first promise is easy to keep. The second — not so much. Chances are you're going to have to use a calculator to count the number of times we see San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh on the sidelines. How many times we hear their names, How many times the brother-vs.-brother angle comes up.

"Obviously, it will be talked about a lot by sports fans and non-sports fans," said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus. "It's an interesting story. It's one that everybody can identify with because many of us have had sibling rivalries throughout our lives."

CBS will, not surprisingly, air a feature on the brothers during their pregame show. The network is hoping to get the two to sit down together for a joint interview, but there's no confirmation at press time that that's going to happen.

And during the game itself, the cameras will be focused on the coaches' reactions to various plays. Just like every other televised football game.

"But it's not going to dominate at all the coverage of what happens in the game itself," McManus promised.

It just might seem that way to some viewers.

CBS will certainly have plenty of shots of the Harbaugh brothers. There will be 62 cameras at the Superdome in New Orleans. That includes unmanned cameras and aerial cameras — which is always sort of weird when a game is being played beneath a dome.

McManus tried to downplay those numbers a bit, "But, listen, there are a lot of cameras," he allowed.

That's 62 as compared to somewhere between nine and 12 cameras for your average regular-season NFL game. And twentysomething for playoff games.

All those cameras should improve the viewing experience, but that's not the only reason they're there. For CBS, a worst-case scenario would be a controversial play without a definitive camera angle.

"What people sometimes forget is that the television now is an integral part of the actual officiating of the games," McManus said. "The referees use our replays to determine if a guy's foot is in bounds, if a guy's knee was down, if a reception was made or if a touchdown was scored. So you want to make sure in the Super Bowl that you have every possible angle covered."

And they want to make sure that there's an angle that isn't blocked by one of the players or officials on the field.

To that end, CBS will employ a "hyper-zoom system" that enables the technicians to zoom in on replays "in a lot clearer manner than you normally could," McManus said. Meaning that freeze-frames that, in the past, would have seemed cloudy and indistinct will now be clear.

Clear enough to show us exactly what happens in what has to be the most-anticipated postgame handshake between two head coaches at a Super Bowl in the game's history.

"It's primarily about the players on the field and what they're doing," McManus said. "But it's a great storyline that will be talked about a lot."

Probably too much, despite his promises.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.