The COVID-19 pandemic has made this year’s Super Bowl different from any other. It’s cut back on the number of fans, media and corporate sponsors descending on Tampa, Fla. The traditional parties are gone, replaced by social-distancing guidelines and reminders to wear a mask.
Hollywood, Calif., Local 45 member Carmen Long performs a camera check-in with the production truck in preparation for CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl LV. This will be the 30th time in 55 Super Bowls that IBEW technicians will provide the pictures and sounds of the game to viewers.
One thing hasn’t changed, however. IBEW technicians will provide the sounds and pictures to more than 100 million Americans watching on CBS and millions more around the world. Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicks off Sunday, Feb. 7 at 6:35 p.m. EST.
“It’s been a rough time for all of us but I’ve been comforted knowing our broadcasting brothers and sisters are doing amazing work in difficult conditions,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “I have no doubt that will continue on Sunday night, no matter the challenges. I thank them for going the extra mile with a longtime partner to provide fans everywhere with another stellar telecast.”
The IBEW has had a professional relationship with CBS dating back to 1939, when it was a radio company. This will be the 21st Super Bowl televised by the Tiffany Network – a nickname that dates back to the high standards set by CBS in the 1950s, when television was in its infancy – and the IBEW has provided the technicians for all of them.
The IBEW also has a national agreement with Fox Sports and members have worked all nine of the Super Bowls televised by Fox – meaning the IBEW will have provided technicians for 30 of the 55 Super Bowls played after Sunday’s game.
“During this NFL season, our technicians and utilities dealt with circumstances that they’ve never had to face before,” Broadcasting & Telecommunications Director Robert Prunn said. “The way our members handled the multiple COVID tests, stadium protocols and their own family issues during this pandemic while still broadcasting amazing shows every week proves how dedicated they are to their craft.
“The Super Bowl is the showcase event of the year and the hundreds of IBEW members in Tampa will again demonstrate their commitment, talent and dedication to the world.”
Those members’ work was noticed by CBS management, too.
“In one of the most challenging years ever, we are so thankful for our outstanding partnership with the IBEW,” said Patty Power, CBS Sports’ executive vice president for operations and engineering. “We have an amazing crew of hard-working and talented women and men joining us in Tampa and we look forward to a great show.”
Besides CBS, other IBEW members in Tampa have been working for local television stations and other media companies and outlets in the week leading up to the game.