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Interactive Annual 15:
entertainment

NFL/NBC Sunday Night Football Extra

Launch Movie

“A football fan’s dream interface! Having multiple camera angles at your disposal during the game is awesome, not to mention the real-time text commentary, and chat-like Q&A. This is the future of the online sports experience.” —Michelangelo Capraro

“This project takes what is typically considered a linear experience and transforms it into an interactive one. Illustrating both technical mastery and user experience prowess, the concept of presenting video as a passive experience is forever changed.” —Stacey Mulcahy


Overview: The National Football League teamed up with Adobe to deliver this engaging experience to NFL fans during game time. With multiple live- and interactive-broadcast camera feeds, picture-in-picture functionality, in-game highlights, enlarged-view and full-screen mode capabilities, this live video streaming of NBC Sunday Night Football games on NFL.com and NBCSports.com was the first time that a full-length NFL game was widely available in the U.S. over the Internet. The high-quality streaming video delivered with Adobe Flash technology enabled fans to watch the games free in a rich, immersive, interactive environment.

  • • As is the case with any live event, the main obstacle was delivering a rich engaging online experience on time—the project had to be completed before the start of the football season.
  • • The site structure gave every major component equal hierarchy; viewers could expand or collapse any of the multiple modules without interrupting the live viewing experience.
  • • Throughout the game, live text-based commentary was provided by the on-air TV talent, with space in the interface for viewers to submit questions.

Comments by Mark Hirsch

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach? “Yes, to an extent. The target audience ranged from traditional sports fan, to road warrior to a younger and more technologically Web-savvy fan base. While the main purpose of this project was to provide an interactive companion site to the television broadcast, it also needed to be able to stand on its own.”

“We also wanted to ensure that the game could be enjoyed using the Flash platform. We realized some fans would have high-speed bandwidth, while others would be more limited so we developed variable bit rate functionality to insure that viewers would receive the best quality given their available bandwidth. (Flash Player 10, which includes variable bit rate capabilities was not announced when the season started.)”

How did your relationship with the client evolve over the course of the project? “Our development methodology is very inclusive of the client, and we had a fantastic working relationship...even under such demanding timelines. Not only was the client involved but they were able to make changes with each iteration to insure that the project was meeting their goals.”

Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? “There were two major demands that made it challenging: First, we needed to be pragmatic in terms of the amount of features we could accomplish in such a short timeframe. Second, the site only went live during Sunday night football games and while bandwidth is no longer as much of an issue as it has been in the past, we had to have enough capacity for all visitors to have an optimal high-quality video-viewing experience. To do this, our team spent much time optimizing the interface and running multiple streaming tests with the client and Content Delivery Network providers, which proved to be an extremely valuable exercise in the end.”

Credits

Ian Campbell, NFL.com, creative director
Jerome Doran, interactive creative director
Jaime Vasquez, lead designer
Shinhyun Kang, interactive designer
Kyle Glossy/Danny Saikaly, technical leads
Nathan Hoffmann, NFL.com, engineer
Noah Fischbach, NFL, interactive technical director
Bruce Bleasdale, NFL.com/Jamie Voris, NFL, technology directors
Dusty Brown, interactive developer
Jamil Ellis/Naim Imami/Andrew Keidel/Sean Newsum/Jason Poteet, programmers
Tom Brady, NFL.com, director
Mark Hirsch/Tom Seeley, NBC Sports/Kaarli Tasso, producers
Eric Black, NBC Sports/James Kastner, project managers
Jens Loeffler, consultant
Adobe (San Francisco, CA)/NFL, project design and development
NFL/NBC Sunday Night Football Extra, client