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Steelers

NBC, NFL noncommittal on future SkyCam usage

Chris Adamski
| Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
The Wildcat overhead camera hovers over the the line of scrimmage as the Steelers break the huddle during the second quarter against the Titans Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Wildcat overhead camera hovers over the the line of scrimmage as the Steelers break the huddle during the second quarter against the Titans Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at Heinz Field.

Love it or hate it, the SkyCam perspective for the broadcast of Thursday night's Steelers game didn't appear to have a significant effect on the audience size.

The NFL and the network that broadcast the game aren't coming out fully for or against its future usage.

The Steelers' home game against the Tennessee Titans peaked at 15.2 million viewers across the variety of media platforms the game was available on, according to figures provided by NBC Sports and attributed to data released Friday by The Nielsen Company and Adobe Analytics.

The telecast was the first in NFL history to use SkyCam as its primary viewing angle. The view –— from behind the offense with it traveling “up” the screen, not unlike the “Madden” video games franchise — was panned by many on social media , though it was liked by others as an alternative from the traditional sideline view.

“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 Tribune-Review on Friday. “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.”

NBC Sports did not address more specific inquiries concerning any feedback it received about the broadcast or if it would be using SkyCam for future games.

Reached by the Tribune-Review, an NFL spokesperson would speak only in generalities in a released statement: “NBC's use of Skycam is the latest example of innovation that we've seen on Thursday Night Football, giving fans a unique perspective to view the action from an NFL game.”

The game received a national household TV rating of 8.2, according to NBC, which added the Total Audience Delivery of 13.8 million for Titans-Steelers topped the 2016 Week 11 Thursday Night Football game (13.6 million viewers for New Orleans-Carolina) and was up 3 percent from last week's season Seattle-Arizona Thursday night game (13.4 million).

Thursday's game was shown on NBC, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video, NBC Sports Digital, NFL Digital and Universo.

The SkyCam is created by cameras hanging from cables that suspend above the playing surface and are attached to stadium concourses. It has been used during games for several years — but only as an alternate viewing angle.

Twice earlier this season, SkyCam became the primary angle because of extraneous circumstances. Heavy fog clouded the view of the New England-Atlanta game Oct. 22, and NBC adjusted by showing much of the second half from the SkyCam view.

Two weeks later, residual smoke from halftime fireworks briefly obscured the traditional camera angle early in the second half of game between Oakland and Miami.

The Steelers are scheduled to appear on NBC three more times over the next five weeks: Nov. 26 at home to Green Bay, Dec. 10 at home against Baltimore and Christmas Day at Houston.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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