No, you didn’t turn on a game of “Madden” video game football Thursday night.
NBC decided to experiment a bit during Thursday night’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead of the standard view looking from the sideline down the line of scrimmage, the primary camera angle came from the SkyCam behind the quarterback. It has been the primary view of the “Madden” video game since the game was invented, but even for people who are enthusiasts of the game it was unusual to not see almost all of the game from the traditional angle we’ve seen since the start of football broadcasts.
NBC decided to try it for the Titans-Steelers game after stumbling upon the new view during an Atlanta Falcons-New England Patriots game Oct. 22. A fog hovered over the stadium in the second half, and the standard view couldn’t pick up any of the action. NBC switched to the SkyCam view as the primary angle, and many people enjoyed it. Not everyone was in favor of it. People have been watching football games on television a certain way their entire lives, and the SkyCam angle is a big change.
Of course, the NFL didn’t come up with the SkyCam idea. It came from Vince McMahon’s XFL in the early 2000s. That angle was one of the XFL’s innovations that the NFL picked up. But this was the first time that view was used by the NFL on almost each play; before it was mostly used on replays or a live play here or there.
The SkyCam, or “Madden,” angle is great for fans who want to watch plays develop. For example, on the Tennessee Titans’ first drive, viewers could see much more easily that quarterback Marcus Mariota was going over the middle to an open receiver, and that when he threw the ball too high it was going to be picked off by the safety. It was also much easier to see Antonio Brown’s deep route from beginning to end on his long touchdown catch early in the first play. Viewers could see those plays develop as they happened, something isn’t always the case from the traditional angle. That view doesn’t always pick up the defensive backs. It was also much better for seeing offensive line play.
— NFL (@NFL) November 17, 2017
NBC also used the traditional angle at times, going back to it for a lot of Pittsburgh’s second drive, but Thursday night was about the SkyCam angle. It’s hard to see football networks ditching the normal view that has been used for decades, but it was a fun new way to watch an NFL game.
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