Frank Supovitz | Talks at Google


[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]

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