Give the customers what they want NFL – the All-22

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.


Published by Lance Wiggs


2 replies on “Give the customers what they want NFL – the All-22”

  1. Lance
    I don’t know much about the TV arrangements etc for NFL, but I have always likened NFL (and probably college level football) to an explosive and brutal version of chess (I preferred playing snow football when I lived there). To really understand what is happening (or happened) in a game, I would appreciate the ability to view the whole field (like you do in chess) so that you can take in all the moves, openings and opportunities that are occurring across the whole field as the coaches and players counter each other to create/restrict scoring opportunities as a lot of what is important is happening off the ball.

    The All-22 view sounds like sitting at the top of the Millard Stand in Wellington (preferrably not in a gale force southerly) and seeing it all horribly unfold in front of you as Wayne Smith takes off from first five, runs down the blind side to score a try for Canterbury to nick the Ranfurly Shield from Wellington. That view allows you see the whole move develop and see what it going to happen before it happens – in this case – extends the pain of losing the shield for what seemed like an additional eternity.

    By the way I support the explosive but usually inconsistent Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL; reminds me a lot of the Wellington/Hurricane teams that I also support.



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