Does The NFL Have Drone Cameras?


Does The NFL Have Drone Cameras?

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The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, the highest professional level of American football in the world, the wealthiest professional sport league by revenue, and the sport league with the most valuable teams. 

The NFL’s 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, seven teams from each conference (four division winners and three wild card teams) advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held on the first Sunday in February and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

So does the NFL have drone cameras?

As technology has advanced, the NFL has updated what they used to capture the games being played. They currently do use some drones to get a better picture of the games, but most of the cameras they use are regular cameras and not drones. 

If you would like to know more about whether the NFL has  drone cameras, please keep reading and check out this video!

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl remains one of the biggest sports events of the year, and the most popular TV program in America, with millions of people following the games every day.

You must be wondering, how these games were recorded in the early years when there were no advanced technology devices around such as drones.

In the beginning, the NFL used multiple television cameras to record their games, signing contracts with CBS, FOX, and NBC. That was beneficial for all parties, due to the high number of people tuning in to watch the game’s broadcast each time.

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Instant Replay

One of the biggest inventions that television came up with was Instant Replay. For the first time, it was actually used during the Army-Navy game in 1963, but soon after that, the NFL started using it regularly. Instant replay helped viewers understand the game better and it made the games more entertaining.

It took some time for the NFL to test the instant replay option, and they quickly realized that they needed more, at least 12 cameras to be capable of filming the games from every angle. Finally, they approved and started using instant replay regularly in 1986.

TV also started developing more, making the broadcasts and live games even more entertaining which was beneficial for the teams for commercial reasons, but for the TV as well, due to the number of viewers watching the live broadcasts.

Skycam

As technology advanced more throughout the years, people were looking for better ways to improve the game broadcasting experience.

First, they came up with a new camera that was controlled by a computer, suspended on cables and operating through 3 dimensions over the playing area. The camera’s name was Skycam which was first used by the NFL for their game in 1984. NBC was the first TV channel to use the remote-controlled camera followed by great success.

The new camera-system got very popular, and it has been used also to broadcast other sports games (NBA, NLH, NASCAR).

Skycam consists of 3 main components:

  • The reel – the motor drive and cables
  • The spar – the counterbalanced pan and tilt video camera
  • Central control – the computer software that is used by the operator to maneuver the camera.

History Of Drones

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (or uncrewed aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone and rarely as an uninhabited aerial vehicle or unoccupied aerial vehicle) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board and a type of unmanned vehicle. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator, autonomously by onboard computers  or piloted by an autonomous robot.

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Compared to crewed aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While they originated mostly in military applications, their use is rapidly expanding to commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, infrastructure inspections, smuggling, and drone racing. Civilian UAVs now vastly outnumber military UAVs, with estimates of over a million sold by 2015.

Drones

As technology advanced even more, the NFL started using drones for their games and practices. Drones were handled easily by remote-control, moved fast and that made them very convenient for the games.

Today, drones are becoming even more popular. They come with lots of good opportunities, for example, during the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, players test their skills, by attempting to catch balls that drones drop from overhead. 

As technology progresses further, there will be more ways to use drones during games and practices, which is going to make it into a more fun and entertaining experience for the viewers and players as well.

To answer the question, whether the NFL uses drone cameras, the answer is yes. Drones definitely add a new style and sophistication to the games, making it a fun new experience for viewers.

In 2018 at Super Bowl 52, during the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge, there were hundreds of drones up in the sky that lit up during Lady Gaga’s show. The drones were programmed to fly together and create images like the American Flag and the Pepsi Co. logo.

Can I Fly My Drone At An NFL Game

According to the FAA’s website and rules, it is strictly prohibited to fly your drone over a major sport event. It is considered illegal, and you risk getting a major fine or even jail time.

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One hour before a major sport event starts, the airspace above the arena becomes “national defense airspace”, until one hour after the game’s ending. That means that it is illegal to fly a drone or any other mini aircraft less than 3000 feet above the area.

In this case, only professional certified drones are allowed to fly to record games and practices, or for other purposes.

Conclusion

The NFL uses drone cameras for different purposes, the most important being recording their games and practices in order to see it from different angles and to give it a more sophisticated look.

Before drones, there was the Skycam that had the same purpose and was built especially for sports events. Skycam was a bit different from a regular drone, mostly because it was operated on cables while a drone doesn’t need that.

It is important to know the rules set by the FAA (Federal Aviation Association) when it comes to using drones during major sports events.

The most important of all is using personal drones less than 3000 feet above the sports arena (1 hour before and 1 hour after the game ends), which is prohibited, to prevent accidents from happening (for example, the battery can die due to a drop in voltage and that makes the drone crash into the ground). So if you plan to do that, you will want to think twice, otherwise, you risk getting a big fine or facing jail time. 

As time passes, the drone’s technology is going to evolve even more, and we are curiously waiting to see what other possibilities and features they are going to offer in the future.

Matt Robbs

I love to spend time with my wife and 3 kids. There is no better way to get them off the couch and outside than for us to grab the RC cars or boat and enjoy the sunshine!

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