Behind the Mic, Featured, Sports

Behind the Mic – Oct. 24th

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As the RCN sports crew travels around from venue to venue, we, happily, hear from so many viewers. The compliments far outweigh the criticism and, most of the time, the criticism centers around not doing a particular team or a particular game. To me, that is really a backhanded compliment because it just means those fans want to see us televise their team. Every so often, an over-exuberant fan will come up and say, “You guys are just like ESPN!” Well, I am here to tell you we are not even close!!

In an article (“More Show Than Game” – Sept. 27) written for “Rolling Stone” magazine by David Amsden, he talks about observing an ESPN Monday Night Football broadcast of a New England-Philadelphia pre-season football game. The insights offered were astounding to me and, I anticipate will be for you, too. This preseason game had:

  • 11 trucks transport the gear
  • A crew of 200 (graphics, producers, assistants, statisticians, a sideline reporter, sound editors, mixers; the list goes on and on)
  • 50 microphones
  • 20 cameramen (31 cameras are used during the regular season)
  • 216 monitors


That’s the staff – how about the cost:

  • $15.2 billion for the rights through 2021
  • That’s $111 million in rights fees per game
  • Broken down even further, it costs $600,000 per minute
  • Constantly introducing new and very expensive technology (ex: digital yard markers, Skycam)

In addition, staff (announcers, directors, the tech crew, etc) arrives Saturday. They spend one day with one team and one day with the other. Highlight packages are produced (about 20% used). Various storylines are discussed. Production meetings abound. On Saturday night, there is a production team-bonding activity. This particular week, all attended a Bruce Springsteen concert.

In comparison, when the RCN Television team does a Saturday afternoon college game, we have:

  • 2 trucks
  • A crew of 18
  • 15 microphones
  • 5 cameramen
  • 30 monitors

The cost:

  • Around $3000 per game, not counting equipment costs (but ESPN didn’t count that either)
  • Rights fees in the hundreds of dollars
  • Broken down even further, it costs @$22 per minute

In addition, the announcers attend a press luncheon during the week to talk to one coach on the phone for around 10 minutes and talk to the other coach for about 15 minutes. The crew arrives the morning of the game to set up for the telecast. There is not much time (maybe lunch) for a team-bonding activity.

What do I conclude from this information?

  • ESPN spends an astronomical amount of money to do the NFL games (no wonder the NFL will make $9.5 billion in profits this year).
  • NBC, CBS, FOX all have similar NFL expenses and the competition to be the best produces terrific broadcasts.
  • Despite this “apples to oranges “comparison, the RCN Television Sports Team also aims every game to be the best they can be. From the director to holding the Big Ears and everything in between, we always strive for a quality broadcast – to be the best. From the many comments we receive, I do not think we disappoint. There is no question our mindset is “just like ESPN’s”

BUT, obviously, we are not “just like ESPN”!



  1. I still do not like the NFL overtime rule. If the team that possesses the ball first scores a touchdown, they win the game. Give each team at least one possession. In the past, the first score ended the game and that was usually a field goal. They made the rule a little better, but it is still not fair to the team that loses the coin toss.
  2. Do you realize only two teams in the AFC have winning records (New England and Baltimore). That has never happened before this far into the season.
  3. Watched the RedZone again this week. It was great during the early games, but lost some of its luster in the later games. There were only two games and it felt like I was constantly hitting “swap” on my remote.
  4. RG III is really, really good!
  5. I feel good about Penn State’s 5 game winning streak. This staff and these players had absolutely NOTHING to do with the turmoil. They deserve their success.


(Last week – 11-2 – 85%) (17-10 overall for the season – 63%)


New England


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San Francisco