As the most watched American television broadcast of the year with over 114 million viewers tuning in for the big game, various network coverage of the Super Bowl begins hours and days before the kickoff. The job of providing robust communications to both the premier American football network and game broadcast network was given to audio and coms specialists CP Communications for the NBC broadcast and AY Productions for NFL Network. To overcome the RF communication challenges associated with Super Bowl XVI’s RF demands and SoFi Stadium’s tough RF environment and to provide consistent coverage with the multitude of wireless intercom users, both companies turned to Pliant Technologies’ CrewCom wireless intercom system.
Pliant has provided equipment and support for the event for the past five years. “This year was the first time three separate CrewCom systems, using both the 900MHz and 2.4GHz frequency bands, were all synched using one primary Control Unit (CU),” says Gary Rosen, Vice President of Global Sales, Pliant Technologies. “We were indoors, outdoors, at the water feature and on stages at many different locations in and around the stadium. Using multiple independent systems that were synchronized for RF coordination worked extremely well together for the entire event.”
In all, CP Communications and AY Productions utilized approximately 80 CrewCom Radio Packs (RP), 45 Radio Transceivers (RT), 12 Control Units (CU) and a large variety of both 8-Port Copper Hubs and 8-Port Fiber Hubs. The three separate systems were used for the two main broadcast networks’ pre-game shows with the largest configuration used for the NBC pre-game show.
“The entire pre-game broadcast was a huge success and the CrewCom system was an important aspect of that,” says Max Muehlen, Lead RF Technician, AY Productions. “We broadcasted remotely for a week prior to the big game from various locations with much success. The antenna system was extremely versatile, as we stationed four linked CUs that let us operate consistently while minimizing moving parts on the field. I was also able to access the CrewWare software from the field to make changes on the fly. Pliant’s Gary Rosen and Art Gonzales were amazing onsite; they were there to support AY Productions the entire time.”
In addition to AY Productions’ set up, CP Communications relied on the CrewCom solution for the big game’s network broadcast and pre-game show coverage. “I worked with Pliant to configure the systems and coordinate the antennas in terms of placement and hopping patterns. This was important so that the three systems worked together instead of conflicting,” says Brian Ready, Account Executive & Systems Engineer at CP Communications. “My pre-game system served as the primary sync source. We used the 900MHz band as well as the 2.4GHz devices allowing coordination of hopping patterns and timing synchronization. CrewCom was the right system for this application because it is flexible and scalable. The CP Communications team had many areas to cover and needed to be able to roam between different areas, and CrewCom allowed us to do that. No other system is able to operate seamlessly in both the 900MHz and 2.4GHz bands at this scale, which was incredible. CrewCom did a fantastic job.”
CrewCom is an innovative, professional wireless system featuring excellent 7KHz voice quality with 4-conference or 2-conference full-duplex Radio Packs that can select from up to 64 different conferences for each user, and a host of user-friendly features. It is available in two frequency bands (900MHz and 2.4GHz). Unlike a matrix-based architecture, CrewCom is based on a decentralized network platform. CrewCom wireless products easily put dependable RF coverage where needed, all while employing a consistent user interface throughout the system.
“Pliant was excited to be part of another Super Bowl,” adds Rosen. “CrewCom is a very attractive option because our Radio Packs are so user friendly. You just put it on and start working. In addition, our FleXLR Adapters, which are 4-Pin XLR Female to 5-Pin XLR Female gender adapters, became very popular during the show. By using the FleXLR, the crew was able to use their own headsets easily without having extra connectors and dangling wires.”