Sports@Google: Frank Supovitz from the NFL


Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 31.03.2011

Transcript:
[gong sounds]
[trumpets blare]
[upbeat music]
>>Troy: And here we go; Super Bowl 45 is underway.
>>Joe: A fake hand-off arches a pass down the near side. He's looking for Nelson. Over
the shoulder catch, it's a touchdown!
[crowd cheers]
[trumpets play]
First and 10, back to pass, Roethlisberger and it's intercepted. It's picked up by Collins.
It
is a touchdown!
[crowd cheers]
>>Troy: Up in the middle. Dangerous pass kicked off.
>>Joe: Line drives down the middle; Jennings touchdown!
[crowd cheers]
>>Troy: Back in the end zone, Ward touchdown!
[trumpets play]
>>Joe: Hand off to Mendenhall, Hines stepping in for the Steeler touchdown!
[trumpets play]
[ inaudible] sack, Zombo brings him down.
[trumpets play]
[inaudible] Roethlisberger, hands off the ball. Oh, and a fumble on the play by Mendenhall,
scooped up by the play by Green Bay's Bishop, that corner of the end zone, Jennings eight-yard
touchdown pass by Rodgers.
[crowds cheer]
>>Troy: [inaudible], what a throw! Touchdown Pittsburgh.
[trumpets play]
The Green Bay Packers have won the Super Bowl.
>>Female Presenter: We have Frank Supovitz with us here today, from the NFL. He made
that happen. And he is currently the Senior Vice President of Events at the NFL and he's
been involved with some of the most prestigious and high-profile events that you guys see
every year, both in the US and internationally. In addition to the NFL, he's worked with organizations
such as Radio City Music Hall and the NHL. And he's produced events ranging from the
Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, and the international series that gets played
in London. And he's also produced events like the NHL All-Star Weekend, the NHL Draft, the
Stanley Cup Finals, and even such events as the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, the
opening ceremonies of the US Olympic Festival, and the Goodwill Games. Frank was inducted
into the Event Industry Hall of Fame in 2006. He was featured on the truTV series, NFL Full
Contact, last year. And he's also the author of two books on event management that are
pretty much textbooks in the industry. And the list just goes on and on from there. So,
without further ado, I'm going to this over to another fellow Googler from the NYC office,
Michael Anderson, and he's gonna introduce you to Frank.
>>Frank: First of all, thanks for having me here, all of you. It's really a pleasure to
be at Google and if you've enjoyed NFL football and you enjoy that brand, I have to tell you
that Google's a part of my life, too, both professionally and personally. And I'm delighted
to be here and honored to be here. And I think that probably a lot of you went through college
not knowing exactly what you wanted to do, or thinking you knew what you wanted to do.
Some of you may have gone for law and ended up doing something else. I ended up in the
sciences because I studied what I loved and if that's what you did, you did the right
thing, I think, in that I got to do what I loved. I actually, while I was in college,
I'm a city university guy. I'm from here. How many of you are from New York? A majority,
many of you. Not the majority, OK, but I'm a city university guy. I went to Queens College.
I took biology there. I just wanted to get into academia, research, and teach down the
line. I wasn't looking to be a doctor or anything. I just enjoyed what I got in to. And while
I was there, I was ushering at Radio City Music Hall in the 1970s. And it was an incredible
opportunity because while I was ushering, or actually, when I just got out of college
and I was still an Usher Captain at the time, the company changed. It went from something
that your parents will remember, some of you may remember when they did a movie and a stage
show as one ticket, and that's what I was ushering at. That was the format when I was
ushering there. When 1979 rolled around, they decided to become what they are today, which
is a multi-disciplinary entertainment center, where they do live events, they do some film
premiers and special events and concerts and that sort of thing. And I was offered a management
position there and it's just an incredible place to work and a great place to learn the
entertainment business. And I was learning from the ground up, so I said, "You know what?
I'm gonna put the science thing on hold for a little bit. I'm gonna see how this works
out." And ultimately, it did work out pretty well, because by the time I left there in
1989, I was the Director of Special Events there.
>>Michael: Fantastic. And then you moved on to the NHL at that point and got to see the
leagues expand quite a bit--
>>Frank: Yeah.
>>Michael: from just the Big Six, a smattering of Canadian teams, to really expand down to
the Sunbelt and other areas, so.
>>Frank: Yeah, and that was really a natural outgrowth, interestingly enough, from the
Radio City years, because Radio City at that, in the I would say about 1984 or so, decided
that it was gonna take some of its production experience, the things that it could do inside
the building and do things outside the building. So, serve other clients, other events, not
necessarily in the theater itself. And the first event I worked on there was actually
a half-time show for the Citrus Bowl.
>>Michael: Um-hmm.
>>Frank: And then that ultimately became a half-time show for the Super Bowl, Super Bowl
22 in 1988. So I really started to get a lot more sports work in there. I worked on the
Olympic Festivals as, I think, Sam mentioned, and the Goodwill Games and those types of
things. So, at that time, the event industry, much like your industry, was really nascent.
It was very, very new. So what ended up happening was, there were people who were doing events
because they were PR agents or they were marketing agents or something like that. But very few
people were event people; people who actually shaped these things, themed them, organized
them for a living every day, 24/7. Radio City got in on that very, very early. When the
NHL came calling, they were outsourcing all of that. So in 19-, it was the '91-'92 season,
where they actually decided to have an event department of their own. They had a meeting
planner and an assistant. I came in to help bring all of the events that they do, whether
it's the All-Star game, you see some of the entertainment that we had done--
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: which is very, very similar to what you see as a half-time show at Super Bowls,
we were doing that out on the ice during All-Star games. So what you saw were Bare-Naked Ladies
out there, the group obviously, not the concept.
[laughter]
And again, we were throwing that stage out there in a hurry. We only had the time in-between
periods to be able to stage a quick couple of numbers and then flood the ice and then
get the players back out there. So, what they also did, what the NHL also did, was start
to enhance their draft. And they looked at the NBA and the NFL, what they were doing
on television. And what the NHL did was made it a bigger live event. So what you see there,
at the NHL Draft, which is really intriguing and very different from what we do at the
NFL, you see all those table that are kind of go from right to left, that's a media riser.
That's where all the writers are that are covering the event, and what you see in-between
there and the stage is actually all of the teams having a table of 21 people around it.
So, all the war rooms, for those of you who watch the draft, the NFL draft, all those
war rooms are actually each of those tables at the NHL. And they're actually making deals
between the tables.
>>Michael: So it's a big, open forum, in other words.
>>Frank: It is. And what's amazing is, with all the secrecy that teams have and who they're
gonna draft, how they're gonna draft, what they're gonna do. The drafts are amazing things
because they're business meetings. That's really what they are. They're player selection
meetings. The NFL was able to take it from something that happened in a ballroom, to
create a television show out of it and now it's on ESPN and NFL Network and it's the
highest rated non-sports event on ESPN every year. So that's coming around again in April.
We also did an award shows at the NHL. This one, I think that's Nickelback, if I remember
right, in that particular year.
>>Michael: A lot of Canadian bands.
>>Frank: Well, you know, that's, that, I think, is the key difference between the NHL and
the NFL. The NHL has a great following here in the States, but its life and religion in
Canada.
>>Michael: Yeah.
>>Frank: And in the United States, the NFL holds that position. So I've been blessed
to be able to work on both sides of the border on brands that were really, really important.
>>Michael: There's you and Sammy in the Cup.
>>Frank: Yup. Sammy's in the back. Sammy and I have worked together for ten years in two
different leagues. One of the things that people don't know about the Stanley Cup presentation,
if you watch hockey at all, is the on-ice presentation that everybody's come to know,
has always been the players lifting the Cup over their heads and skating around with it.
And the trophy itself has this kind of mythology around it. We're starting to create that at
the NFL, too, but in a different way. And what you've seen since 2006 is the Vince Lombardi
trophy, which is our Super Bowl trophy, was just kind of presented by the broadcaster
to the commissioner to the owner of the winning club. Now, we have this whole walk-out, where
there's a blue or red carpet that comes out. We get a Hall of Famer. You saw Roger Staubach
in the video bring out the trophy. And now what's happened spontaneously is the players
all reach out and try to touch it as it comes on up. So, it's creating its own piece of
production, if you will that people are now waiting to watch. It used to be, when the
game was over the television went off. People left the stadium. Now, more and more people
are staying to see it 'cause it's pageantry, it's exciting, its entertainment, and it's
meaningful.
>>Michael: Fantastic. Gonna fast forward ahead a little bit. You end up at the NHL, summer
of 2005, I don't have to remind anybody what a terrible time that was in the Gulf region
with Katrina. So you're now at the NFL in 2005; in charge of events production. You
were then tasked with raising money for that region for the NFL. Tell us a little bit about
what that must have been like.
>>Frank: You know what? That was a period that I was being paid, but you didn't have
to pay me. It was really an incredible experience. The Saints were obviously unable to play at
Superdome. It was a place of last refuge during Katrina. Everybody knows the horror stories
there. It was a horrible period for that city. I was actually in Los Angeles finishing off
the kick-off to the 2005 season. We had an event that was looking forward toward the
40th Super Bowl. We did it at the LA Coliseum, which is where the first Super Bowl was played.
So we had this big concert out there. It was part of a television show on NBC and I got
a call during rehearsal that the league was thinking about doing a telethon to help the
Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, which was helping to revitalize New Orleans or help people get
back on their feet right away. So it was just a few weeks after the storm, quite honestly.
And so, I had to hurry back as soon as the show was over. I got out on the redeye. We
went back. We spent the next ten days inventing a telethon. And what, I think, is interesting
about it is I had never done a telethon before and there was nobody I was working with who
had done a telethon before. But what we did know was there's an entertainment piece, there's
a piece that has to be produced, and then there's a fulfillment piece, which is how
do you raise the money? You always remember people getting on the telephone whenever you've
seen a telethon. They were all there answering the phone and how do those payments happen?
We didn't know any of that. So we were actually very, very lucky. Our friends at Ticketmaster,
which, obviously, work with almost all of our teams, have call centers all over the
country. So we were able to work with them. Nobody knew it was Ticketmaster that was actually
taking the calls. We promoted an 800 number during a Monday night football broadcast.
We actually, for those of you who may remember this, we actually moved the Saints game to
the Meadowlands here in New Jersey. They played at Giants Stadium. They played a home game
against the Giants at Giants Stadium. So we actually took all the Giants staff and moved
them out of the building, basically. And Sammy, in the back, produced the game for the Jumbotrons
and we wanted to make sure it was a Saints home game. There were a lot of people from
New Orleans there. We flew a number of people there. And it raised millions and millions
of dollars, which was an incredible thing. Fast forward a year and now we're back at
Superdome and it's ready to open again. Nobody ever expected that you'd be able to finish
off a building that had been so incredibly badly damaged. And it was incredibly damaged.
It was essentially not an indoor stadium anymore after the storm. So it had to be repaired
up to the point where it's habitable again, where people could actually be in the building.
We could hold a ball game there, and we did. We were able to do an enormous event, which
if you talk to people in New Orleans they really think that was the night that changed
how New Orleans saw itself. The Saints were always a big part of New Orleans culture,
but they became really a beacon of hope and something to rally around, which obviously
got paid off in the Super Bowl last year. But we had the Goo Goo Dolls outside, whether
you had a ticket or not. You can come on out and enjoy the show. They sang Better Days
as part of the television show. U2 and Green Day on the inside kicked off the ball. New
Orleans won; we didn't arrange it that way. They had to do that on their own. They played
the Falcons--
>>Michael: I remember that, they played the Falcons.
>>Frank: Yeah. They played the Falcons. And it was an incredible night. And you still
hear it. That's the night we knew it was gonna be OK to be in New Orleans again.
>>Michael: Fantastic. And the NFL, I'm sure, it was a huge coup for you to play such a
central part of helping to turn that region around.
>>Frank: Yeah. It was very, very rewarding.
>>Michael: Let's talk a little bit about the Pro Bowl. I know friends of mine and I always
say to them, "Hey, you gonna be watching the Pro Bowl this year?" They go, "I'm not gonna
watch it." And yet, when the rating came out, the ratings are huge, especially the last
two years. Last year, the Super Bowl was in Miami. The Pro Bowl was in Miami. Again, it
was held this year, a week before, and it was moved back to Hawaii. What played into
that?
>>Frank: Well, we're always trying to figure out what the next thing is and how you continue
to grow your product, how you continue to grow your brand. We knew that the Pro Bowl
was kind of a little bit of a lost child. All-Star games in other leagues have a different
reason for being.
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: They're mid-season. Their championship games are usually best of seven series. You
never know where they're gonna be until two days before they happen. So if you're going
to have a corporate opportunity to thank your sponsors, to thank your fans, all of that,
that's gonna be at an All-Star game and an All-Star weekend. That's what the NHL did.
That's what the NBA and Major League Baseball does. The Pro Bowl isn't that because we have
a Super Bowl where we know that's gonna be somewhere four years ahead of time. So, if
the Pro Bowl is after the Super Bowl, its, you've just done the biggest thing ever and
then you just trail off into an All-Star game and everybody goes, "Why?" So we were getting
three ratings, four ratings on network television and it was less than it should have been.
So last season, not this past season, but the season before, we moved it to the week
before. We moved it to Miami, which is where the Super Bowl was, Super Bowl 44, and played
it in the same stadium just to see what it would do; what the dynamics, what dynamics
would be different. We sold 20 thousand more tickets and really, that's a function of the
size of the stadium. Hawaii's Aloha Stadium is only 50 thousand, 70 thousand in Miami.
But the ratings went up 40%.
>>Michael: Wow.
>>Frank: And ESPN broadcast it so it was actually an artificially low rating because when you're
on cable, the ratings are just generally gonna be a couple of points lower. Well, ratings
went up 40% and I think everybody here knows nothing goes up 40%. No ratings of anything.
If anything, ratings go down except for Super Bowls, somehow. So we said, "OK, we've got
something." It's now a point in viewing for our fans. What we also did, because it was
in Miami where the two teams that would be playing in the game would be, in the Super
Bowl game would be, we were able to get the quarterbacks down there. We got Peyton Manning
down there and Drew Brees. They were part of the introductions. They were also kind
of the halftime interview and if you saw it, it was just magical television. These are
the two guys who would be battling it out in the Super Bowl the next week and they were
just having an awesome time on the sidelines, talking with ESPN. So this year, we had already
had a deal with Hawaii to go back and we had that deal for the next year as well. We said,
"Why don't we leave it on that previous weekend?" because it obviously created some television
appointment viewing.
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: We did that. It was incredibly difficult to manage. We could talk about that if you'd
like in a little bit, but because Super Bowl now, Pro Bowl was now five thousand miles
away the week before; same group of people, many of the same people having responsibility
for both and the ratings went up again, another 9%. So it's a proven quantity that with the
right promotion and the right scheduling, Pro Bowl, although it's not our best product,
and we know that, it’s not a competitive game. It's two-hand touch at best. But it
is something that the fans want to see because we're getting eight and nine ratings now.
>>Michael: Right. So it's Super Bowl, eight, nine, ten days ago, that ends and it’s almost
like there is no off season for the NFL.
>>Frank: Actually, Super Bowl never ends, either.
>>Michael: Right. Everyone's looking ahead to the NFL Draft. Tell us a little bit about
that as far as you being the event producer, how you're involved behind the scenes.
>>Frank: Well, the draft, as I mentioned, is really a unique event of anything you might
see on television. It is a business meeting. I mean, at its core, that's what it is. And
it’s a business meeting that became a television show that became a live event. And the live
event piece of it is really, it's been open for a while to fans, but not in the size it
is now. I think it grew into what it is now, in 2006, when it went to Radio City. And OK,
I knew how to do an event at Radio City, but I was afraid of it because it’s such a massively
huge building. And this picture shows you how big one person on the stage really is.
[laughter]
It is kind of, how do you fill that place? How do you keep things going? And one of the
things that we do with it, which I think is cool, is we've got two different broadcasts
going; NFL Network on one side, ESPN on the other. We're showing those feeds on the video
screens and then we have little radios that we give everybody when they come in so they
can hear the commentary from one or the other. So you're not really disturbing the essential
mission of the draft, which is to select players. You're not disturbing the television broadcast
by hearing other things in your ear.
>>Michael: Right.
>>Frank: We keep music going and those kinds of things. We've got trivia going to keep
people excited for what's essentially 14 hours of meeting over three days.
>>Michael: Wow.
>>Frank: But you're able to actually get all of what you would get at home right there
because you're able to hear the feed more privately.
>>Michael: Which has really enhanced the fan experience.
>>Frank: It really has. This is, it's a free event and frankly, if we charge for tickets,
we'd sell it out. It’s just, people line up the night before. Around midnight, we start
giving out wristbands so they don't spend the night there.
>>Michael: Yeah.
>>Frank: We wanna keep them off the street. Then they go off, they get some rest, they
come back the next day and we seat them for a very highly-rated television show.
>>Michael: This is gonna be a good segue into my next question and that is, how do you go
about selecting Super Bowls? We're talking about New York. What is the process for that?
>>Frank: Well, Super Bowls are really, the site of the Super Bowl is determined by the
32 owners of the NFL; the 32 team owners. We oversee the bid process for that. It's
a process that takes about six- to eight months. We issue what you see there, the covers for
the bid specifications that we send to any team, or any region, that's interested in
hosting it. It is a very exhaustive book. It’s almost as big as the release I signed
for Google just a little while ago.
[laughter]
It's about 240 pages of stuff you have to know, questions you have to answer, things
you have to make sure that you have in order to host a Super Bowl. And then the teams,
we actually work with all the teams that do wanna pitch for Super Bowl. We're agnostic;
our job is to take each of the proposals that are being developed and make them the very
best they can be. So we don't have any interest in one particular city over another. We'll
assign an account executive, if you will, who will help shepherd them through the process,
so that when the owners get the opportunity to vote on where the Super Bowl's gonna go,
they have an incredibly hard time, because you'll have three or four great proposals
to choose from--
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: and then they'll be able to make the determination on, "Geez, is this a warm
weather year that we think we should go to?"
[laughter]
Or, "Should we be going to a city that supported the building of a new stadium?" For example.
>>Michael: Where are the next three Super Bowls?
>>Frank: Well, the next, of course, we just left Dallas/Fort Worth, Arlington/Irving,
and North Texas. We're going off to Indianapolis next year; another new building, spectacular
new building, very, very different, right in the middle of an urban area. So it's got
its own little challenges in terms of, and you'll see on, when we talk about the Super
Bowl app, what we have to do to an area to host a Super Bowl. It’s not just the stadium
itself. Then we go to New Orleans, which will host its tenth Super Bowl. It'll be tied with
Miami for that.
>>Michael: Fantastic.
>>Frank: And then we come here to Newark, New Jersey, and play the first Super Bowl
outdoors.
>>Michael: Nice.
>>Frank. In 2014.
>>Michael: Wow. What challenges were learned, I suppose, from North Texas as far as weather
goes that you might help prepare you for Newark, New Jersey?
>>Frank: Well, the lessons that we learned in North Texas are many and varied. Some of
you have read about them and I'm not even gonna comment on some of them, but weather
is something that you can't predict. And it’s not anything you can do anything about. You
just have to be prepared for it, whatever Mother Nature throws at you. We had an unusually
challenging environment in North Texas. There's a belt of cities in the United States that
are prone to ice. Snow, you can get past. I mean, we all drive in it, or we all get
in cabs or buses or whatever. Ice stops you totally. There's just nothing you can do to
navigate around ice. Well, luckily, we had an ice storm on Tuesday, Monday night into
Tuesday, which is media day. And that's when we get all the players and teams and personalities
to the stadium to be interviewed by the three thousand or so media who are there. We were
able to get that done, but we had, along with the Texas Department of Transportation and
others, a very, very robust plan to clear the streets of ice and snow if those things
should happen. Well, imagine if you will a market that's 16 hundred square miles and
it gets hit by an ice storm right before you need to have an event at the stadium. We had
to be very selective working with TexDOT in what streets were gonna--
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: get cleared and when they were gonna clear. The schools were closed from Tuesday
until this past Monday. I mean, it’s just, it never melted because it was 16 degrees
for a solid week. So they're used to having an ice storm or snow storm that melts; it
goes away, have a nice day. And in our case, we got hit with an ice storm on Tuesday, deep
cold all the way through, a prediction of a dusting of snow on Thursday night, which
became a half a foot of snow when we woke up in the morning. The teams still got to
their indoor practice facilities, the media still got to where they needed to go, but
it was really, really, really slow. The effect that we had following that was something that
again, nobody could predict. While we were clearing the stadium of grounds of ice and
snow, parking lots of ice and snow, ice was avalanching off the stadium.
>>Michael: Wow.
>>Frank: In four corners of the building and a few people got hurt. We had to seal off
those areas and on game day, there was still literally, wreckage underneath each of the
corners of the building where the tents had been destroyed, where there was gonna be merchandise
and concessions and Portolets and all that sort of stuff. And on game day, we had only
60% of our gates open because there was still snow coming off the side of it.
>>Michael: So you saved the day.
>>Frank: No, I didn't save anything. The fact of the matter is, that we, in very close cooperation
with the City of Arlington and their fire department, we were able to put more firefighters
on, so that we would have a safe environment. They'd be able to direct people to exits and
those types of things because they couldn't use the exits that were designed into their
building.
>>Michael: I'm gonna skip ahead a little bit, just cause--
>>Frank: Yeah.
>>Michael: I wanna make sure some of the Google employees here have some time to ask some
questions about technology and other things; football questions. So, day of Super Bowl.
The day arrives. Where are you? What are you doing?
>>Frank: Well, most often, I would get up into what's called NFL control, which is up
on top of the stadium. And we're gonna see it in a little bit. We're going through a
bunch of things, but--
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: it's a control center that we build specifically for Super Bowl. If you think
of it in terms of Mission Control at NASA, it’s very similar. There's a flight director
that would be me in this particular case.
>>Michael: Mm-hmm.
>>Frank: He's talking with any number of individuals who have specific responsibilities for one
thing or another. So, there might be one gentleman who's worried about all the security checkpoints
and how they're operating; another person on stadium operations; another person who
I can get to in a hurry, who's controlling audio and the video screens and those types
of things; another person who's dealing with transportation. Where are the buses? Are the
officials in? Where are the teams? Where are the owners' buses? How are the parking lots
filling? All those types of things. So there is, it's really cut into a bunch of pieces.
Medical is up there. PR is up there. Broadcasting is up there. We have the Chief of Police on
one side of me and the security department on the other. So, anything related to the
operation of game day is actually emanating from there. And that particular shot that
you saw was actually shot about 11 o'clock in the morning, because I'll get there around
10-10:30 and I won't leave there until well after the game; probably about 10:30-11 o'clock
that night.
>>Michael: Wow. I don't imagine you get much sleep leading up to those--
>>Frank: No, you get none.
>>Michael: Yeah.
>>Frank: Yeah.
>>Michael: Tell us, as anyone might imagine who's been involved in the events that things
happen. Things don't always go the best. Tell us what you might describe as like the biggest
event "save" you've had to be involved with for the Super Bowl, or for any kind of NFL
event.
>>Frank: Well, event saves suggest that you succeeded so we'll talk about those things
instead of the things that don't succeed although you do learn a lot about the things that fail.
We're gonna show you a video clip of how tense it can get at an NFL control on game day.
TruTV, last year as I think Sam mentioned, did a--
>>Michael: Mm-hmm.
>>Frank: six-part documentary on how NFL events are managed. And they did an episode on Super
Bowl 44 last year. And they captured a lot of things behind the scenes in real time,
which was kind of interesting. It was actually interesting for me to watch it deconstructed
as other people have seen it. I know how I live it. In this particular case, we're dealing
with something you never, ever, ever see on television, which is you have a football game.
You have, in the case of the Super Bowl you have a 28-minute halftime. You're gonna have
a 12-minute concert production that happens in the middle of it, which frankly, if you
were doing it normally, you'd have three or four days to set it up. We have seven minutes
to set it up and have it work. And then we have about seven minutes to get rid of it
so that we can get the game going again. And what's really important and what I have to
do, is, and I attend all the rehearsals to make sure that I understand how the show is
coming together, whether or not the crew is gonna be able to get it off on time. Sometimes,
actually, I have to stop the clock, the half time clock, which is also seen in the locker
rooms, so that the players know what's going on, the coaches know what's going on because
you wanna make sure that you don't have these enormous, in the case of the Rolling Stones
in 2006, these enormous pieces of stage rolling out of the same tunnel that the players are
gonna head in to hit the field. So it’s a little bit of traffic management, but it’s,
imagine traffic management where you're trying to predict what's gonna happen five minutes
in the future 'cause once those stages are moving and the players are moving, there's
nothing I can do to stop them.
>>Michael: No.
>>Frank: So, you wanna make sure that you get this traffic management thing done. The
other is, television is gonna be ready when the television is ready.
>>Michael: Yeah.
>>Frank: And with commercials running three million dollars for a 30-second spot, you
don't wanna be 30 seconds late. That's a three million dollar mistake. So it is somewhat
pressure-filled in that respect and this will show you a little bit about what we had to
do to see that happen.
>>Michael: Great.
[plays video clip]
>>man: Quick as we can guys, quick strike, quick strike.
>>man 2: And there was only so much time for the whole half time, we knew the set-up was
gonna take about nine and a half minutes. We knew how long the actual performance was,
which was about 12 minutes. So that only left us seven minutes and some change. And so,
we're trying to beat that.
>>man: Here come the players.
>>man 3: This is where we get problems right now.
>>Frank: 3:30 on the half time clock. 3:30. Colt's players emerging from the tunnel.
>>man: We gotta pick up the pace. We're going too slow. Come on, guys. Keep the line moving.
>>Frank: I don't think we're gonna get them out. Stage is still in the middle, coming
out slowly.
>>man: Come on, guys.
>>Frank: It was a very, very tight timing. Staging is now on the Saints side of the 50-yard
line. 47, 46, 45. Get going.
>>man: OK.
>>Frank: Colt's players emerging from the tunnel.
>>man 2: Come on, guys. We got players coming out, let's go.
>>man: Come on, guys.
>>Frank: You want the players to have the exact amount of time in the locker room that
they expected.
>>man: Let's take over the game, guys. Let's take it over.
>>man 2: Damnit. They're stuck. This does not look good.
[crowd boos]
I don't think we're gonna get them out. There we go.
>>Frank: Thank goodness. We were able to get the last piece of staging off just as the
clock hit zero.
>>man: OK, go, go, guys.
[crowd cheers]
We are off the field. Look at that. Right to the second.
>>Frank: It worked. Sigh.
>>Sammy: And it's only your ass if it doesn't.
>>Frank: Hey, I would've gone out on a high, right?
>>Male Announcer: And welcome back to Sunlife Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
[end of clip]
>>Frank: And none of that timing, by the way, was made up on the original episode. That
really happened that way. That was all real time. And it really came down to the final
second. And I had to make, see the problem that I have, is I have to make that decision
five minutes before that happened, to stop the clock. Once the players are out there,
there's nothing I can do.
>>Michael: Yeah.
>>Frank: Or once they're out of the locker room, there's nothing I can do and the Stones
show, in 06, I knew that they were not gonna get that thing done in time. I just knew it.
I knew it from watching the rehearsals. The other thing is, remember, 2006 was played
in Detroit. All of those stage pieces were coming from Comerica Park across the street
and there was snow and ice and everything else on the way. I knew in my heart it was
never gonna happen on time. I held the clock for about 90 seconds, but it happened about,
I would say with seven minutes left on the clock, so nobody was ready to come out of
the locker room and I just radioed the locker room and told them, "We're gonna be holding.
Don't come running out quite yet." Cause that was the same tunnel. Here, in Miami, you had
the abilities to use two different ones.
>>Michael: Yeah.
>>Frank: Ford Field in Detroit has only one and the players come in the same way as that
stuff coming out.
>>Michael: Call it instinct. Many years of event experience.
>>Frank: And you know what? Part of it is and part of it is you know that it's gonna
be better on game day, generally, because the adrenaline is pumping through these--
>>Michael: Sure.
>>Frank: guys who are pushing this stuff. I mean, it's hundreds of people down there
trying to get this stuff off, but it really is a traffic management issue.
>>Michael: And you guys all think it’s hard to get two thousand people up to the 8th floor,
to the Google Express, so just think of that next time you're waiting for the elevator.
So this year's Super Bowl. Most watched program of all time. Congratulations. Ten of the top
eleven programs in history were Super Bowl the most watched programs. Pressure for you?
>>Frank: A little bit. Not as much as you think, though. That's not why, if you do what
we do for a living, it's part of the scenery. You're doing it to do it the right way, not
to do it the right way in front of more or less people. If we were doing this for 18
people, I'd be just as concerned about how something was gonna be presented as if it's
160 million people, which is what it was last Sunday. The only show that's ever been in
the top ten that wasn't a Super Bowl in terms of the most widely viewed programs of all
time, is the 1983 finale episode of M.A.S.H.
>>Michael: Wow.
>>Frank: Which is now number three. It had been number one up until two years ago; Super
Bowl 44 was the first one to beat it. Super Bowl 45 beat Super Bowl 44, so now M.A.S.H.
is number three. It is something, though, that you take very, very seriously and for
all the things that we've been talking about this afternoon. It is something that, if you
mess up, a whole lot of people find out about it at once. It's not something I go, "I hope
nobody caught that."
[laughter]
>>Michael: No, I don't imagine--
>>Frank: There's no such thing.
>>Michael: Now that we have terms like wardrobe malfunction, it leaks into our daily language.
>>Frank: Yeah, or missing seats. It's just everybody finds out about it at once. If that
were to happen at another event, nobody would hear about it. Here, everybody hears about
it.
>>Michael: We're gonna go into Q&A in just a second, but before we did, I wanted to give
you a chance to talk about the Super Bowl app.
>>Frank: Yeah. We, you know, we probably live in the Stone Age compared to you. I mean,
you guys are the vanguard of technology, clearly. There's a couple of things that we did this
year that I think increased our tech-savvy capability of being able to deliver a good
product. One of the things, which is really low-tech, but just mega, was the screen at
Cowboy Stadium, which is the biggest thing you've ever seen. One of the most amazing
things that I've ever seen, actually I yelled at Sammy for doing it, but before media day
we were running a loop on the screen. So as people came in they had something to watch.
Nobody was in the building yet and they showed a clip of the Metrodome roof collapse back
in December. You've seen it on your computer screens; you've seen in on YouTube, you've
seen it on TV. Until you see it on that screen, holy smoke.
>>Michael: Wow.
>>Frank: I mean, it looked like a James Cameron movie. It was just unbelievable.
>>Michael: Something else. We're set up here if you want to show it.
>>Frank: Yeah, please don't. We also got into the app business and we provided these, this
app.
>>woman: You might want to close your eyes.
[laughter]
>>Frank: This app for free to any fans or partners who wanted it and that was to familiarize
people with Super Bowl before they got there. So there were a couple of things we did. One,
which was very interesting, was we provided so much detail that the Arlington Police Department
started to freak out that there was just too much that people knew about what we were doing.
One thing I wanna show you is this. There's a red line. You see it down here? We're a
National Security event level one and we're the only annual event in the country that
is that, has that designation. What that means is that there's an extraordinary amount of
federal security help; everything from a temporary flight restriction over the stadium, from
two hours before the game until an hour after. Nothing can fly over. That's why you don't
see blimp shots anymore from the Super Bowl; haven't for years. We sometimes can get a
plane, a police plane or chopper and put a camera on it so that you can see something.
This year, we couldn't get that done. They didn't have the equipment for it. But you
also have to go through security checks, just like an airport. So we have about 130 Magnetometers
that are installed just for that one day. And that's the metal detector you go through
when you go to the airport. We have to load in, in this particular case, 104 thousand
people in three hours, and go through all of that, which sometimes goes very well and
sometimes doesn't go as well. But that's that red line around here. What you also have to
do is, everything you need on game day, has to be in there. So, any kind of equipment
materials all has to be in there before Friday night, when the Feds lock it down. They sweep
it, lock it down, nothing else comes in except for people who are ticketed the next day.
So, this app was actually created, not for the police, but it was created for the people
who would be coming to the game. And what was cool about it is it gave you the opportunity
to see everything you needed to, or wanted to know about, everything from where your
parking fields might be to where your seat might be. You can actually do into the stadium.
If you wanna know where the best nachos are, they've got that. You can actually, we're
gonna go back in, you can actually go to the section that you're sitting in and see what
the field's gonna look like from there, which is kinda cool. So you can compare your ticket
to what's going on. You can, there are other things that go on around town, 'cause Super
Bowl is the game, but it's also ten days’ worth of events. I mean, there's a lot going
on. You can go to downtown Dallas, in this particular case. I just went to the stadium.
There we go, downtown going to Dallas and compare where you are, where your hotel might
be. You can go into the Convention Center, which is where our interactive football theme
park, called NFL Experience is, and you can explore that a little bit. That one wasn't
in 3D like the stadium was, but you do have the opportunity to find out where the attractions
are and where the events are that are going on that day. You won't see any of them pop
up because they're all gone, clearly.
>>Michael: Like magic.
>>Frank: But it shows you where the bathrooms are and everything else. You can actually
also, and this was fun, find the restaurants in the area as well. And then also get the
little reviews of the various restaurants that you might wanna go to. So it was a great
opportunity for people who have never been to North Texas and that would be most people
who went to Super Bowl because it's never been in North Texas before, the people who
do go every year. And you're able to find pretty much anything you want in the course
of that week. We actually also have a similar scenario for Fort Worth, which was 40 miles
away cause that's where the AFC was staying. The NFC was staying in Dallas. So that gives
you a little glimpse as to what the Super Bowl app looked like. We made that available
about ten days before the game.
>>Michael: Very cool.
>>Frank: And people could download it from the iTunes store for free.
>>Michael: I guess we've come a long way since Broadway Joe and Super Bowl 3.
[Frank laughs]
>>Frank: A little bit.
>>Michael: Yeah, yeah. We've got just about five minutes left, so I'm gonna open this
up to the Googlers. Please use the microphones. This is your chance to ask Frank about anything
about the NFL, or the Super Bowl, or anything technology related. Some of you have mentioned
you're interested in hearing more about the first down line, things like that. So let's
open it up to Q&A.
>>Female Audience #1: Hi. So part of what I do at Google, I work in marketing, is event
planning and running events. So I'm yet to figure out what's the best way to approach
it. Is it to go in having a strategy for every possible situation, or are you the kind of
person who recommends going into it, what happens is gonna happen and we're gonna deal
with it when we get there, cause you can't drive yourself crazy planning for everything?
>>Frank: You actually can drive yourself crazy. It's really easy and for me, it's a local
trip.
[laughter]
You do have to have a scenario for a lot of different things that are likely to happen.
You have to have the demeanor to be able to handle things that happen that you didn't
expect. So let's talk a little bit about some of the contingencies that we have when we
think about a Super Bowl. One of the things we do, again, because the very, very public
nature of what we do, we actually hire a guy to come in and throw scenarios at us about
ten days before. It would include everybody who's at NFL control. Sitting behind them
is everyone we would be talking to. So whether it’s by radio or by written-down line, or
by other methods that they would have to actually execute something, are also in there. We have
law enforcement in there and the fire department, EMS and everybody else. And this gentleman
will, is very familiar with Super Bowl. He will survey the stadium, look for weak spots
in things, and toss scenarios at us that could range everything from an ammonia truck spill
downwind or upwind of us, to a weather issue or something like that and then we have to
respond in real-time. It's about a four-hour exercise; it's very, very intense and very
scary, but not nearly as scary as game day when you're actually there. And it also builds
the team so that everybody sees how everybody else reacts to situations and they understand
each other’s competencies and strengths and you work through the problem together.
And you'd rather do that before the event than during the event. During the event, sometimes
you have that, too. But you've already had that experience once and you know who everybody
is and who people are looking to for decision-making. So I would say anything that is likely to
happen, you should have a plan for. And that could be everything from what happens if the
airports close because of a weather event, how you're gonna route people, what happens
if there's a building failure, you have to move it to another facility, do you have a
back-up for that, those kinds of things. But yes, you have to, contingency plans are huge.
The snow and ice contingency plan, we never expected to use in North Texas. Never expected
it. Should've been 60 degrees. It wasn't; it was 16. And we had plows and salters and
sanders and all of that. Not enough to cover 16 hundred square mile area, but at least
the routes that we needed taken care of on any given day, we had a plan for that.
>>Female audience #1: Thanks.
>>Frank: OK.
>>Male audience #1: I think there's been a focus on increasing the presence of the NFL,
internationally and globally. What would you say you've done maybe outside of traditional
broadcast media to facilitate that with technology?
>>Frank: Well, the first answer is a low-tech answer. The first answer is, we actually play
games in London. We play one a year. That may grow. It's been incredibly successful.
We started our international regular season games in Mexico City in 2005; sold 103 thousand
tickets for that. You're looking at a game that was played in London. They loved the
cheerleaders, they loved the game. We got 90 thousand people at Wembley Stadium; it's
a sell-out every year. It's like the event, it's kind of must attend. And I think that's
what makes it very special. If you were doing it eight times a year, it's not quite as special.
Once a year, it becomes very big. What it has done, is actually both fed and been fed
by digital media and broadcast media. So we have a very robust site in London, or in the
UK, called NFLUK.com, where you can go and actually watch games in progress over there,
where you can't see. It's almost like the Red Zone idea, but you have the opportunity
to be able to see different pieces of games as they're occurring and that's huge. Now,
are you familiar with Red Zone?
>>Male Audience #1: Mm-hmm.
>>Frank: Red Zone. How many people don't know what Red Zone is? Red Zone is a very cool
thing. What we've done, because every one of our games is televised somewhere, even
if you don't see it here, is in Culver City, California, there's a control center where
they actually have a host who brings you from game to game so any play that could potentially
score is what's on at that particular moment. It really is, I mean, television crack.
[laughter]
Honestly, you can't stop watching it. You just can't because like, "Oh, my God, there's
gonna be a, oh, my God there's gonna be a score." We actually introduced Red Zone into
every stadium this year. Actually, Sammy oversaw that project so that every stadium, every
team has the ability to use Red Zone during stoppages, during quarter breaks, during half
time, and during pre-game. Red Zone was used in London for the very first time at Wembley
Stadium and it was so successful that when we showed it, people actually applauded. Like,
they saw a game that was happening in the United States at the same time as what they
were seeing live in London and they just thought it was the most amazing thing they'd ever
seen. So some of the answer is a little low-tech answer. I'm not the hardware and software
guy. I can tell you what we applied to it and those are the kinds of things we apply.
>>Male Audience #1: OK. Thanks.
>>Frank: OK.
>>Male Audience #2: In 2004-2005, the NHL had its lockout.
>>Frank: Yes.
>>Male Audience #2: So did that influence your decision to leave the NHL for the NFL?
And I guess the follow-up to that is how do you work jointly with the league during a
lock-out? I know that the NHL really had to reinvent themselves afterwards. The NFL has
an impending lock-out that could possibly wipe out the upcoming season. So, how do you
work jointly with the leagues during labor stoppages?
>>Frank: Well, let me answer your first question first, and I think there were three or four
in there, so I'm gonna try and get to them all. It did not influence my decision. It
happened to be coincidental. The job that I currently hold became available, actually
just before the lockout; the NHL lockout. And I was actually up in Toronto as the director
of operations for the World Cup of hockey at the time. And it was just an incredible
opportunity if you have the opportunity to work for the NFL, like Google. If you can
be associated with the best brand at what you do, you do it. I mean, you wanna be able
to put that on your shingle. So it was related, I guess, in a sense that it happened to be
at a time that I could do it, but it wasn't the reason why I did it. Labor issues are
tough and challenging literally for everyone, including the fans right down to the hot dog
vendors. It doesn't matter who it is. Sports is part of the American culture. Super Bowl
is part of the American culture. NFL games on Sunday, you just say, "What are you doing
on Sunday?" during the season, regardless of where you go, there's a game on TV and
people are watching it. So, it is a very, very challenging time. What it is is if you
have the resources to be able to do it, it's a good time if you're not otherwise producing
things. And we will be and we hope to be playing, quite honestly. We hope to have a deal with
the players very soon. The sooner the better. You have the opportunity to look back at the
things you are doing, and you have time to make them better because, Michael said it
before, there is no off season for us. We go from one event to the next to the next
to the next and when people say, "Well, when do you take time off?" I say, "It's a Tuesday
in July between two and four in the afternoon." I mean, that's really, we're just cranking
all the time. Super Bowls, we're working on four at a time in various stages of preparation.
So what you try to do if you're me, what you try to do is take a step back and look at
what you're doing and just try to make it a better product at the end of the day.
>>Male Audience #3: OK, thanks.
>>Male audience #3: Hi, how's it going?
>>Frank: Good.
>> Male audience #3: It was fun growing up in Ireland. Took part there and followed the
NFL and there was technology change that happened then, and another technology that's happening
now. At the time, technology was that it moved from free to air broadcast on Channel 4, and
it moved to Sky.
>>Frank: Right.
>> Male audience #3: And this scoupered a fair generation of fans. We get a lot of people
watching.
>>Frank: That's right.
>>audience #4: We're now hitting a situation where the majority of college graduates are
choosing to not get cable from cable TV. How are NFL dealing with the move to most people
watching most video on the Internet?
>>Frank: Well, I don't think most people are watching most video on the Internet yet when
it comes to NFL product.
>> Male Audience #3: If you look at the trend, the trend is only going one direction.
>>Frank: Not when it comes to NFL product though.
>> Male Audience #3: That's cause you have control.
>>Frank: Right, that's true and that's kind of nice. What's interesting is while there
is that trend; our television ratings have never been stronger. So you're right, we do
control that and we control it very strictly. We have a certain number of rights holders;
CBS, NBC, ESPN, and Fox. And they each have their little piece of pie. But what's different
about sports is they're a point in viewing. You're going to go to where you can view it,
at least for the time being. That's the culture. You know it's at 4 o'clock on a Sunday, or
it's at 4:15 on a Sunday, or it's at 8 o'clock on a Sunday. Whatever it happens to be, if
you have an interest in watching it, that's where you're gonna go to watch it. And what's
counterintuitive about the trend today, our trend and the trend toward digital media that
are not digital broadcasts, is that everybody's ratings are falling, except ours, which is
just absolutely fascinating: Pro Bowl ratings, we talked about, never been bigger; regular
season ratings, never been stronger; Playoff ratings, never been bigger; Super Bowl, most
watched television program of all time. So I can't tell you what the future holds for
how we're going to deliver content, but obviously there is some digital, new digital platforms
in our future. There's no question about that. Thank you.
>> Male Audience #3: Thank you.
>>Sammy: To follow up on that really quickly, if you live outside North America, you can
get all of our games streamed with a product that we offer. And also, if you live in North
America, if you have the DirecTV package, you can get as well. So you get every game
plus the Red Zone channels. So I know when I'm at home, I'm watching over the air broadcast,
but lucky job that I have, I can get the package in North America and I watch all the games
on my laptop.
>>Frank: The other thing that's intriguing about your question is the question, I'm gonna
turn the question around a little bit. When you're home, you have access to a lot more
information than you do at a stadium. And that's a battle we're fighting right now because
as many of you know, we have a blackout policy, which is if the game is not sold out, it doesn't
get broadcast in that market. It may get broadcast elsewhere, will get broadcast elsewhere. So
we want to make sure our stadiums are full, because a full stadium makes for good television,
it makes for a more exciting environment, and it’s a better environment in the stadium
as well. You don't want empty seats, or at least, larger swaths of empty seats. So what
we've been grappling with, is trying to figure out how to deliver the content in the stadium
that you would be missing at home. And right now, there's enough ways of doing it, but
the pipes aren't big enough, as you know. People have Smart Phones, people have iPads,
people have and we want to deliver all the content to them that they can, but right now
there's just not enough capacity in a stadium of 80 thousand to be able to handle all the
demand for that. So the Red Zone effort that we talked about putting in the stadium, that
was part of trying to deliver that. Putting more stats up on the matrix boards, because
people are just nuts for Fantasy Football now. So we're putting a lot more fantasy stats
on the boards that you'd be sitting at home going, "OK, what happened? What happened in
the New Orleans game?" We're trying to get that to people and delivering it to them in
a macro way. What is gonna happen eventually, it's gonna be delivered in a micro way as
well, which is now and there is a hardware solution to this, but it’s not universal
yet. You wanna watch that replay, it’s not the replay necessarily that I'm showing you
on the Jumbotron. It’s the five different camera angles you wanna see and you can control
time and you can control your content. That's coming. But it's gonna take a better way of
delivering that content in order to make it really useful for people.
>>Michael: Fantastic. Well, it looks like we're out of time. We went a little bit over.
So we thank you so much for your time and good luck with the upcoming draft and hope
you have a great season.
>>Frank: Thank you. It's been great being here.
[applause]