San Francisco, CA (March 16, 2016)—The fiftieth edition of the Super Bowl, held February 7, 2016, was watched worldwide by more than 167 million people, and the 111.9 million who watched in the U.S. alone made it the third most-watched program in U.S. history. To fathom those numbers is to gather some appreciation for the pressure that was on the production crews on-hand for the big game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, outside San Francisco.
The sheer number of people working at the facility made for an incredible amount of RF congestion, however, piled on top of the already difficult region in and around San Francisco. As James Stoffo, PWS RF Lead, who worked on site with ATK Audiotek as entertainment RF engineer, the sound reinforcement company for the pre-game, halftime and post-game Lombardi Award events confirmed, “This was probably the most difficult RF environment of any of the 17 Super Bowls I’ve ever done. Between the stadium’s proximity to Silicon Valley, the abundance of white-space devices and an already crowded UHF spectrum, finding available bandwidth is a challenge.”
For NEP, which provided a half-dozen OB trucks for the broadcast over the CBS Television network, that meant turning to RTS wireless intercom equipment for all communications during the telecast. That arsenal included five high-capacity ADAM digital matrix systems (6 frames); a total of 1,912 ports—904 analog, 640 MADI, 256 OMNEO, 112 RVON; 135 trunks; and no less than 3,655,744 crosspoints.
Those weren’t the only intercom systems in play at Super Bowl 50, however. Radio Active Designs (RAD) UV-1G wireless intercom systems were deployed by two separate companies on site during events held before, during and after the game, ensuring all lines of communication were kept open.
CP Communications (Elmsford, NY) handled wireless audio transmission for pre- and post-game events, as well as the game itself, excepting the Coldplay/Beyoncé/Bruno Mars halftime show. In all, CP provided a half-dozen UV-1G base stations and a total of 30 RAD packs to the days efforts. The units employ Enhanced Narrow Band technology, which RAD claims is 10 times more spectrally efficient than current FM technology, in turn allowing it to provide RF channels with an occupied bandwidth of a mere 25 kHz audio characteristics more inline with a traditional FM system. The system additionally utilizes unused VHF range for all belt pack portable devices, leaving more room for operation of other wireless devices, such as wireless microphones and in-ear monitors.
When the CP Communications crew hit the ground in Santa Clara, however, the main concern was that it be able to “work with the logistics folks and make sure we bring gear that can be coordinated with all of the other gear on site—and there is a LOT of other RF gear on site,” said Loren Sherman, RF coordinator for CP Communications. “We brought along six UV-1G wireless intercom systems because I never have any problems getting it coordinated. San Francisco has very little space open for RF and I knew deploying six base stations wouldn’t be an issue, and that meant communication wouldn’t be an issue, either. Another advantage to the RAD gear is that you can move it around and not anticipate any problems. We had units in use throughout the week leading up to the game and I had no concerns about other RF in the area.”
The CP team didn’t only use the intercoms inside Levi’s Stadium; taking on pre-game events (and the game itself), Brian Ready, account manager and systems engineer, used one UV-1G unit at Super Bowl City in downtown San Francisco and another during the NFL Red Carpet Honors show held the night before the game. Even during the game, he also had a unit at the fan plaza outside of the stadium and two more in the stadium.
“The RAD gear was incredibly useful from an RF perspective,” Ready adds. “Without having band splits makes coordination much easier. The only UHF you have to worry about is for the base station, and that is minimal. The software provides options not available on standard BTR units which provides a lot of flexibility. I’ve used them consistently since the day we received them.”CP Communications wasn’t the only outfit at Super Bowl 50 with RAD intercoms, however. ATK Versacom and ATK Audiotek used RAD systems for Super Bowl 50's pre-game, anthem, halftime show and Lombardi Award presentation, utilizing five UV-1G base stations with 30 RAD bodypacks to make sure everything went smoothly.
Radio Active Designs