- “Sunday Night Football” debuted a new feature during the Cowboys-Cardinals preseason game.
- The “Green Zone” was created to show how far a runner had left to reach the first down marker.
- It is unclear how what the new feature adds that the yellow first-down line already provided.
- Initial reactions from football fans on the broadcast’s new look were negative, but there’s a chance that could change over time.
The “Sunday Night Football” crew debuted a new feature during their broadcast of the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals preseason game on Sunday – the “Green Zone” – which shades the area between the line of scrimmage and the first down marker a darker shade of green than the field on third downs.
For fans who weren’t prepared for the change, it was a bit visually jarring, but the “Sunday Night Football” team insisted it was a way to make it easier for viewers to see how far a ball carrier had to go in order to reach a fresh set of downs.
Welcome to the green zone.
On third downs, see just how far players will have to go at any point during the play to get a first down. pic.twitter.com/cCLdkdLjls
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) August 27, 2018
Knowing how far a runner has to go until they reach the first down marker is a crucial part of watching any play develop, but many were left confused, as that issue was already essentially solved by the yellow line that is now a feature of any televised football game.
Fans were perplexed, as it appeared that NBC was attempting to dramatically fix what certainly wasn’t broken, and they voiced their confusion over Twitter.
NBC trying something new on tonight's broadcast. The "Green Zone." Shows you how much space is in front of the offense before they get a first down…which I thought the yellow line was for but what do I know! pic.twitter.com/4xNkCpuvKu
— Zach Bye (@byesline) August 27, 2018
I appreciate the effort, but please immediately remove the “Green Zone” from all future broadcasts
— Cameron Magruder (@ScooterMagruder) August 27, 2018
Hahaha. NBC with the Green Zone!! Like the yellow line wasn’t good enough ????????????
— Jim Nastics (@BigBigBanger) August 27, 2018
Other fans were even more dismissive of the new technology.
Never in my life do I ever want to have to see The Green Zone on my television screen ever again.
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) August 27, 2018
Immediately hate the green zone
— Bo Brack (@BoBrack) August 27, 2018
While fan seemed fairly universal in their disapproval of the broadcast’s new look, NBC stands by the decision.
Speaking with Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky, “Sunday Night Football” producer Fred Gaudelli explained how and why the “Green Zone” was created:
“[The Green Zone] was developed primarily for the Skycam view, which we think makes it easier to gauge how far the ball carrier has passed the [line of scrimmage] and has gotten close to the first down line-something that isn’t easy from that perspective. We really liked it and decided to adapt it for third down on the conventional play-by-play cameras. Again, maybe a tad quicker realisation how close he is to the first down-think we had a couple of good examples of that last night.”
The new feature does make more sense when considering the Skycam view, which became a more essential part of broadcasts last season. Still, from the traditional broadcast angle, the “Green Zone” feels redundant.
Preseason is a time for networks to tinker with their broadcast, so there’s little harm in NBC trying things out to see if they work, and there’s a good chance that given a few years to adjust, the “Green Zone” will be as highly appreciated as the yellow line has become over time.
That process will take some time though, and in the meantime, it’s clear that football fans are particularly fond of NBC’s latest development.
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