A Look Inside How ESPN Gets Ready For Super Bowl 50

Before it’s made apparent by my remarks, I don’t know jack shit about football. I can watch a game with a Bud Light in hand and unassumingly make my way through a plate of snacks and know when the right time to yell at the ref or give a high five is, but eh it’s not my thing.

What I was really interested in when I rolled into ESPN’s Marina Green mobile studio in San Francisco was what actually went into putting on a production like this that would undoubtedly be the go-to analysis for millions of fans. I wondered what went into choosing the location and, in a city like San Francisco, what sort of community interactions took place to get the studio invasion okayed. I also was curious how many people it really took to get the production up-and-running.

When I grabbed my security credentials and walked into the open-air studio on the edge of the San Francisco bay, it was clear that this was a huuuge production.

Famed football players moseyed through the sets as dozens of fans outside of the barrier gaped at athletes I didn’t recognize. Someone jovially shouted “Hey, who is that guy?” as the all-to-knowing crowd guffawed because this celebrity was really THAT famous. Meanwhile I stood there, phone in hand sending snapchats of the stars (?) to my football-loving buddies who replied with jealous hatred.

Beyond the select few “talent” and their interview subjects who were present, there were dozens and dozens and dozens of production crew members. Most of these people were buzzing from set to set while others took their union-required breaks to check out some of the takes being prepped for the more theatrical commercial bumpers.

The exciting thing about the pop-up studio is that at any given moment there was something going on that was streaming live to living rooms across the country and everyone there had a piece in how that process took place. Equipment was being misplaced, takes were stretching on for hours and someone’s whereabouts was always being inquired about. But the crazy thing is that even with the uncertainties caused by covering this massive event on foreign turf, the staff rolled through beaming its coverage and made it apparent what a well-oiled machine this production was.