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How many cameras will be used on the Super Bowl and how much will they cost?

The Las Vegas Sphere getting ready for Super Bowl LVIII. Pic: Sphere Entertainment
3 minute read
The Las Vegas Sphere getting ready for Super Bowl LVIII. Pic: Sphere Entertainment

Super Bowl LVIII will likely be the most-watched single sporting event of 2024. Have you ever wondered how many cameras will be used to capture it and how much they would cost to buy? We have the answers.

In 2023, a massive 115 million viewers watched America’s showpiece sporting event, and we have seen how much companies like Uber Eats are willing to pay for an ad spot for their (very funny) Mr and Mrs Beckham commercial ($4.5m - $7m in case you were wondering).

But I got to wondering how much it would cost for a production company to produce an event like the Super Bowl just from a camera perspective. They have to film multiple areas of the field of play, the HalfTime show, the build-up, the interview areas, and most importantly, they will need to have at least one unit focused permanently on the Chief’s Players’ Box ready to catch a glimpse of the NFL’s newest star - Taylor Swift! 

This year, above and beyond TaylorCam, host broadcaster CBS plans to use 165 cameras to provide over 115 combined hours of coverage. This is the 22nd time CBS has broadcast the event, and it is throwing the kitchen sink at it. 48 cameras have super slow-motion capability, and half of them are 24 4K zoom extraction cameras, which the broadcaster says is a record for the Super Bowl

There’s some innovation in there too. Six ‘doink’ cameras in the uprights will give a new angle on all the kicks, while CBS is planning on deploying three sky cams, two fly cams (including a "trolley cam”), and three drones that will be tracking all of the action on the Strip. There will also be a 53-foot Techno Bird Crane located on the upper concourse of Allegiant, which will allow it to provide dramatic sweeping views of the stadium.

Here’s the full breakdown:

CBS camera manifest for Super Bowl LVIII

And, perhaps even more than all that, this is the first time ever the event will be broadcast in 1080p High Dynamic Range and 4K HDR.

So, how much will all that camera kit cost? 

Fortunately, I was able to track down a press release from our friends at Sony that details all the company’s camera packages that will be at the game.  Now for those that aren’t aware, these cameras are expensive. Very expensive. So expensive that Sony does not put the price of each camera on a press release. Why? There are lots of reasons, but primarily due to the connectivity they have with the infrastructure that allows you to watch at home via satellite, and, of course, new innovations like 4K (or in the case of four of the cameras in the stadium) 4x 4K zoom so the Director can zoom in on incredibly tight calls in amazing detail.

I should add that I have had to be a little creative with some of the values below. Look, you can’t just go out to B&H or CVP and buy 60+ top-end Sony broadcast cameras. Stock is extremely limited and often POA, so I have used listings for available new or nearly new stock from authorised Sony Professional retailers, including B&H and Adorama in the US, and Top-Teks and CVP in the UK, converting the £ value to $. I have tried to include sales taxes where possible as well. If I have missed something, please correct me in the comments; I will happily hold my hand up if you can find a better deal for any other RedShark readers interested in buying $50K+ broadcast or cinema cameras!

Below is the list of the 121 (yes, one hundred and twenty-one) Sony cameras used inside the stadium for the broadcast:

Sony’s System Cameras in Use:

  • HDC-3500 x 15 @ $55,000 per unit = $825,000
  • HDC-4800 x 4 (doing 4K x 4 times zoom, and then cutting out in HD) @ $180,000 = $720,000
  • HDC-5500 x 63 @ $90,000 = $5,670,000
  • HDC-P50 x 23 @ $45,000 = $1,035,000
  • FX9 x 1@ $9,000 = $9000
  • FX6 x 1@ $6,000 = $6000

Halftime Show featuring Usher - Produced by Roc Nation with Cinema Technical Management by James Coker/Funicular Goats.  Director/Producer Hamish Hamilton - Done and Dusted.

  • VENICE 2 x 10 @ $58,000 = $580,000
  • VENICE x 3 @ $40,000 = $120,000
  • BURANO x 1 @ $25,000 = $25,000

So, for the game, we are looking at 107 cameras at a combined value of $8,265,000. For the halftime show, we have 14 cameras with a value of $725,000. Combined for the whole production, we are looking at cameras worth $8,990,000! And that's just Sony...

Sony’s trucks will also support:

  • NEP’s main gameday truck
  • Game Creek’s efforts at the Bellagio stage and during the Nickelodeon broadcast
  • F&F trucks supporting CBS Sports Network’s coverage from the Bellagio

This is also before we start looking at lenses (that will likely exceed the value of the cameras) and the multitude of broadcast trucks mentioned above spread all over Las Vegas containing the broadcast switching and production kit and their (literal) miles of cables.

[Update: Canon has provided us with the following table of its lenses that will be used on the production. Given that the Canon UJ122x8.2B IE-D UHD DIGISUPER 122x 4K Broadcast Lens (below) comes in at over $170,000, that means that 17 of those box lenses alone have a total value of $2,890,000. And this list represents only 57 lenses.]





























Finally, we have the most important factor - people like you, RedShark readers! Film and TV professionals with the skills, knowledge and experience of not only working these incredibly complex pieces of technology but doing so under the most incredible pressures - as covered so very well here by colleague Phil Rhodes in his piece in praise of Sports Camera Operators!

Tags: Production Sports