A lot changes in 45 years.
Back on January 15, 1967, when the very first Super Bowl was played, the game between the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL champion Green Bay Packers was broadcast on two networks -- NBC and CBS, each of which held rights to one of the leagues.
When NBC missed the second half kickoff because they did not return from commercial break in time, action was stopped and the kickoff was replayed. The game was blacked out in Los Angeles, where the game was played (as was the custom in those days) and newspaper columnists wrote outraged missives over the $12 ticket prices. With 30,000 empty seats in the stadium, an announcement was made asking fans to come in sit in the lower center section so that the empty seats would not be seen on television.
Only a very small amount of television footage remains from that game, as it was the custom in those times to reuse and record over the very expensive video tapes used in that era. The two networks also shared the same network feed and cameras (owned by CBS).
Now, as FOX prepares to broadcast Super Bowl XLV on Sunday Night, they have about 300 crew members on site, operating 42 cameras and over 50 miles of audio, fiber audio and video cable. Twenty of the cameras are manned, and specialized cameras include the overhead Cable Cam, four Super Slow camera which shoot 180 frames per second, two FOX "X-MO" cameras which shoot an astonishing 500 frames per second, eight robotic cameras, seven stationary unmanned cameras and 18 digital replay machines.
Since the summer, FOX Sports has been formatting all its sporting events in a 16:9 aspect ratio. If you own an older television that still uses the 4:3 format, you will see the game in a "letterbox" format, but you will be able to see more of the field, and all of the FOX graphics, as if you were watching on a HD screen.
In the various conference calls for sports media writers this week, this comment from FOX Sports President Eric Shanks was interesting when asked about a Super Bowl on cable (read: ESPN) is in the future:
"I don't think in the foreseeable future, but who knows 10, 15, 20 years down the line. The line is being blurred between over-the-air broadcast and cable. There’s a generation growing up today who probably has no idea what over-the-air television even means because they or their parents just get a bill in the mail every month and they pay it. I think the economics for the foreseeable future will keep it on broadcast television."
As for the content of the broadcast itself, among the FOX personalities that will be broadcasting the game is Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw. While he attempts to be objective about the game, Bradshaw makes no bones about where his loyalties lay:
"I’ve already thought about what it would be like to stand in the middle of Cowboys Stadium and present the Lombardi Trophy to Steelers owner Dan Rooney." Bradshaw says. He explains: "I’ve already thought about that and how cool it would be since I was a part of the first Super Bowl team that saw Art Rooney get the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl IX in the dressing room."
He goes on to clarify: "I’m excited for Pittsburgh but if Green Bay were to win it I’d be excited for them. We just know that I’m a Steelers guy. I have no problem doing the show and answering questions about anything pertaining to the football game whether it’s negative or positive for Pittsburgh. Where is my heart? You know where it is. It’s with the Steelers."
The broadcast will be heavy on politics and patriotism as well. One highlight of the four-hour pregame show from FOX is an exclusive one-on-one interview between President Barack Obama and Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly at approximately 4:30 PM ET. Around 5:53 PM, some current and former NFL greats will read excepts of the Declaration of Independence, as a tribute to the American troops serving world wide. Wrapping up the patriotic part of the pregame, at 6:15 PM, actor Michael Douglas will voice the final "Journey to Super Bowl XLV" open, an emotional, stirring tribute to both teams and the resiliency of America and the world.
Forty-five years ago, the game was not even broadcast live. Now, with 42 cameras and the President of the United States on the four-hour pregame show, the game is basically a national holiday.
Lets just hope the NFL and its players can be smart enough not to screw up this whole thing they've going on here this offseason.