From the (paid) Wall St Journal a fascinating article on the “all-22” view for NFL (American Football). The all-22 (there are 22 players on the field at once) view is the top down wide angle HD view that cameras capture in every game, but which is only released to the NFL teams themselves.
If you ask the league to see the footage that was taken from on high to show the entire field and what all 22 players did on every play, the response will be emphatic. “NO ONE gets that“
NFL is a highly structured game, where highly choreographed attacks and defenses move all 22 players across the length and width of the field. The off-field coaches are the ballet masters, and almost without exception, call the plays. But sometimes those plays are the wrong ones, or the structure of the attack or defense is poor, or the execution of the play by a team is poor.
The All-22 shot would make it a lot more obvious what is actually going on in the game, and make it a far more compelling viewer experience. It would also make it far easier for players and coaches at all levels to understand how the elite teams go about their business.
But still the NFL resists: “This is a long way from becoming a reality, if ever.”
They are quire wrong. While the all-22 view would expose poor coaching and plays, that exposure is exactly what is required to lift the quality of the coaching and plays. The NFL also admit that customers (viewers) really want to see these views but they are concerned that TV and amateur analysts will spend hours pondering the footage. Again this exposes the short term thinking of the NFL, and a distinct lack of courage. The analysis they are so afraid of will lift interest in the game, increase viewer hours and ultimately increase the ability of networks, cable and websites to pay for the rights in the first place.
How is any of that bad for the game?
As for the sport itself?
By distributing this footage only to NFL teams, and rationing it out carefully to its TV partners and on its web site, the NFL has created a paradox. The most-watched sport in the U.S. is also arguably the least understood.
In summary this is a beautiful example of short term revenue-focus stupidity trumping what is best for the customers. Like other businesses with myopic focus the end game is obvious.