Fox bundling up for frigid telecast at Lambeau Field

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 17, 2008 - 9:07 PM

Network personnel were busy purchasing cold-weather gear for the game. The forecast for Sunday's 5:30 p.m. start is a high of 7 above and a low of 3 below. Summary.

Fox Sports employees likely got some odd looks this week when they went shopping for winter gear -- in Los Angeles.

"We bought tons of hand and foot warmers," said Jerry Steinberg, Fox's vice president of field operations. "Who knows if they will be sold out in Green Bay?"

As Fox officials planned their coverage for the NFC title game between the Giants and Packers on Sunday, one key focus was bracing for the frigid conditions of Lambeau Field. The forecast calls for a daytime high of 7 degrees with a low of minus-3 for a game scheduled to kick off at 5:30 p.m. Winds could be gusting from 10 to 15 miles per hour.

"The real heroes for us will be our camera people, who will be out in the elements for three plus-hours and our two sideline reporters, Pam Oliver and Chris Myers," said Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports. "And the pregame guys are going to be out there, too."

Members of CBS' crew also will have to battle the cold during the AFC title game between New England and San Diego at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. That one will kick off at 2 p.m. and its expected temps will be in the teens; however, it has the potential to feel much colder with winds approaching 40 miles per hour.

Those on the pregame shows might tell you how cold they are on their outdoor sets -- heated blankets make life a bit easier -- but at least they will have the opportunity to go inside during the game.

No such luck for a camera crew that Steinberg estimates will total about 20 on Sunday in Green Bay. The toughest assignment will be for those operating the high end-zone cameras because there isn't much protection from the wind. Fox will have a second trailer set up to enable those who can take a break to warm up.

But Steinberg seems far from concerned about potential cases of frost bite.

"That's what these guys do," he said. "It's the same thing as doing a baseball game in July in St. Louis when it's 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity. You run the gamut from one extreme to the other."

While doing a game in the cold might be uncomfortable, it has little impact on what fans see at home. Part of the reason is that modern equipment can be powered up the Friday before an event and left on until after the game, meaning there shouldn't be any surprises on Sunday.

Lance Barrow, the lead producer for CBS' NFL coverage, said rain is another story. That is fresh in Barrow's mind given that CBS had problems with condensation buildup on its cameras because of a steady rain that fell during last season's Super Bowl in Miami.

"Our cameras are able to handle extreme cold and extreme heat," Barrow said. "Our camera guys are used to being in all kinds of elements. We have an experienced crew. They are bundled up and well prepared just like the players on the field."

While rain might not be welcome, the same can't be said for snow. It might have been difficult to see through the flakes at times during Fox's coverage of the Packers' victory over Seattle last Saturday in a divisional round game, but the network types loved it.

"The weather forecast last Saturday was just for some flurries and it was supposed to stop around game time," Goren said. "So I get out to Lambeau and it's snowing. I was with [NFL] Commissioner [Roger] Goodell and said, 'Can we get the special effects to continue during the game?' I hope we don't run out of snow. The pictures were phenomenal and it was a fun broadcast. I do think that snow has a positive effect on the ratings."

It certainly did in the Twin Cities. The Packers' victory had a 25.9 rating and 49 share in this market, placing it behind only Milwaukee, Seattle and Jacksonville among the 56 metered markets in the United States.

Fine-tuning

• No doubt helped by plenty of Vikings talk, KFAN finished second in the Fall Arbitron book among men 25-to-54 years of age with a 7.9 share from the hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday (when it has local programming). That was an improvement from a 6.7 share and fourth-place finish in a not-so-great summer book. KFAN finished as the No. 1 talk station among adults 25-54 from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday with a 4.4 share. That, however, trailed six music stations.

• In an agreement announced Thursday, Turner Broadcasting will take over NBA TV and the league's web operations. The deal will run through the 2015-16 season.

• KSTC (Ch. 45) has added the Wild-Vancouver matchup on March 21 to its telecast schedule.

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