NFL Draft: Making the right choice
The NFL Draft is a big deal, both literally and figuratively.
As part of a sport that does razzmatazz very well, it is a crucial cog in the show business side of American football, featuring gold carpets, fan parks and against-the-clock game-show-style time constraints.
Of course, it also plays an integral role in the planning for the next NFL season as it gives the 32 teams a chance to bolster their playing squads.
In May 2015, Trickbox TV and Tower Bridge TV Studios played a small but significant role in how the NFL Draft was covered by television.
NFL teams develop their player rosters in three ways: signing free agents; trading their players for players from other teams; and drafting college players.
Each year the latter culminates in the NFL draft, a three-day event that sees each of the teams choose the college prospects they want to sign, with the teams that fared the worst on the field of play in the previous season getting first pick.
A glitzy televised affair, the 2015 Draft took place between Thursday 30 April and Saturday 2 May, with the opening rounds in Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, the first time it had taken place outside of New York since 1964.
In another change from the usual schedule, rounds four to seven were announced at an open-air event in the same city and also in the home cities of various NFL teams.
For Florida’s Jacksonville Jaguars that meant making their choices not just in the city in which the team is based but also in London, a city that it has strong links with the team, having played several regular season games at Wembley Stadium in recent years.
It was the first draft pick ever to be announced from outside of the US.
For the live coverage of the London picks, which is only 20 seconds of airtime, the NFL and its production partner, Sky, needed a studio with a backdrop that was instantly recognisable as London.
“We work with London & Partners [the official promotional company for London], which is based in the same More London building as Trickbox TV, so we knew about the studio from last year,” explains NFL head of marketing Sarah Swanson. “So when we needed a venue we thought it would be ideal. The backdrop is fantastic.”
For the broadcast itself, which went out live on the NFL Network and on ESPN, was streamed live on NFL.com and was featured as an item on Sky Sports News in the UK, an HD feed from the multi-camera studio was transmitted via the studio’s circuit to BT Tower from where it was passed to NFL Network in the US.
As a setting, Trickbox TV’s Tower Bridge TV Studios worked for all concerned, providing iconic scenery – drenched that night in pink to celebrate the birth of the royal baby - and also helping to promote London and its links with the NFL. But, importantly, it was also technically appropriate.
“Our experience of working with Trickbox TV was great,” adds Swanson. “Everybody was easy to work with, the look was exactly what we wanted, and it rained so we were glad not to be outside! It had everything we needed: a fully equipped studio with crew, a phone to be ready to take the pick, a feed to link to BT Tower and of course that iconic view.”