3 plays that show perfectly why Skycam is the future of the NFL on TV

Cork Gaines
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NFL Network


  • NBC has been experimenting with the "Madden Cam" as the main viewing experience for fans during "Thursday Night Football" games.
  • The Skycam view is not perfect, but it does a better job of showing the modern NFL game.
  • The new angle is likely to resonate with younger fans who are used to the view playing the popular "Madden" video game.


During the "Thursday Night Football" game between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, NBC once again turned to the Skycam as the main viewing experience and three plays in particular showed why it is the future of the football television viewing experience.

The Skycam view has been dubbed by some as the "Madden Cam," because of the similarity to the default view in the popular video game franchise. It gives the television viewer the view from behind the offense, as opposed to the traditional view from the sideline.

During the Thursday night game, we saw some perfect examples of the advantage this angle brings to the at-home experience.

The first play came on the opening drive of the game. With the Broncos moving the ball, the drive came to an abrupt end when quarterback Trevor Siemian threw an interception. With the Skycam view, fans at home could see in real time how horrible the pass was as Siemian inexplicably threw the ball right into double-coverage for an easy interception.

The benefit of the Skycam is that fans get a more complete view of the action in real time of the modern NFL game where receivers regularly run routes out of the view of the sideline cameras. With the sideline camera, fans often have to wait for replays to get a sense of what receivers were doing and what exactly the quarterback was seeing. But with the Madden Cam, fans everywhere were likely screaming as Siemian released the ball.

The second play came in the second half when the Broncos scored two touchdowns for the comeback win.

Brock Osweiler had replaced Siemian earlier in the game after the starter injured his shoulder. With the Broncos up 14-13, Osweiler threw a perfect pass deep down the middle of the field to tight end Jeff Heuerman. As the play unfolds, the fans at home could see Heuerman broke free momentarily. But more importantly, the fans could also see how perfect the pass was as it just cleared the hands of the defender.

Take another look. This play has five receivers and we could clearly see four of them even though three are more than ten yards downfield. The only receiver we couldn't see was the X receiver to the left who was likely running some sort of out route towards the sideline.

At the moment Osweiler threw the ball, fans could see that three receivers were tightly covered and one was starting to break free. Fans could see immediately that Osweiler made the right choice as it was happening.

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NBC

Compare those plays to this interception thrown by Tom Brady with the traditional view of the game.

The Patriots have four receivers. At the time Brady released the ball, fans could only see one receiver, and they had no idea how bad this pass was until the ball was 25 yards downfield and almost to the receiver.

The Skycam view is not perfect. The biggest drawback is that it can be more difficult to gauge where exactly the players are on the field. This becomes a factor when trying to determine just how many yards a running back gains, if a player has reached a first-down line, or if somebody scored a touchdown on a close play.

NBC seems to have solved part of this problem by reverting back to the traditional sideline camera on plays closer to the end zone. In these cases, the view from behind becomes less important because fans can still see all or most of the receivers in the end zone on passing plays.

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NBC

But even on running plays, there is an advantage to the Skycam view.

Check out this run by C.J. Anderson.

From the sideline, most runs up the middle look like a big mess of players. But from behind, we can see all the key moments, including: 1) the first hole opened up between the center and the right guard; 2) a linebacker filled that hole; 3) the fullback stuffed the linebacker, but then there was no space; and finally 4) Anderson saw a second hole open to the left, he made a quick cut, and gained about 13 yards to pick up a first down.

The Skycam is going to take getting used to, and some long-time fans are going to hate the change. But introducing it slowly like this is going to help, and eventually this will become the standard.

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