This prediction isn’t based on inside information and I’m right only as often as a broken clock, so there’s a chance I’ll eat these words in a matter of weeks if not days. But I’m going to say it anyway: You will never again see the Skycam view used as frequently in an NFL broadcast as it was during NBC’s “Thursday Night Football” of the Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game.

It was a worthwhile experiment and I don’t blame them for trying, considering how many people seemed to enjoy it when weather conditions forced NBC to use said view consistently during an October matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. But if you searched Skycam on Twitter Thursday night, you’d see that the negative reaction greatly outweighed the positive feedback.

Here’s a sampling:

That last point is important. The Skycam is novel, but it isn’t economical when it comes to offering viewers the game’s most pertinent information in real time.

It’s cool, but it’s not efficient.

Sure, a lot can be gleaned from the Skycam view that can’t be seen with the customary sideline view which football games have been presented in since the beginning of time. But isn’t that the whole purpose of instant replay? Skycam was adopted and implemented in order to give us the unique perspective that a lot of folks are currently losing their shit over,. But that perspective has been available via replay for years.

And the reality is that the information and perspective gained from the Skycam is secondary to the information and perspective that you often risk losing when it’s used for live action rather than replays.

On too many occasions Thursday night, viewers lost valuable perspective. The Skycam view either isn’t wide enough to capture all 22 players on the field or is so wide that you lose detail. And more importantly, you often lose the ability to track a ballcarrier’s progress toward the first-down line, which is usually the primary objective on a given play.

That’s why it seems as though a lot of experts, analysts, former players and hardcore football fans without specific allegiances are giddy over Skycam.

While casual fans and fans of either participating team are more preoccupied with the end result of each play, and are thus left feeling robbed.

In summary, the live Skycam is ideal for those who just want to analyze the game of football, while the classic sideline view is probably better for those who just want to see if Antonio Brown got enough yardage for the first down.

Since that second group is a hell of a lot larger than that first one, I think it’s safe to guess that the experiment wasn’t an overwhelming success. And if you’re trying to improve something that ain’t broke, the improvement had better receive unanimous applause. Networks won’t risk alienating millions of fans in order to enhance the live experience for a few, especially because — again — Skycam already existed!

Yes, this is friggin’ awesome in real time…

But wouldn’t it be just as awesome on replay?

Is all of this an indication that too many of us simply haven’t been paying close attention to instant replays? Are we missing all of these sick Skycam replays while we surf Twitter between downs?

The initial strong reaction to the novelty that was “Skycam live” and the praise Thursday night from fans of the intricacies of the game might be a clue that networks have been under-utilizing Skycam in general.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see a lot more Skycam moving forward. And I’m sure networks will try to use it live on occasional obvious running plays and/or early-down passing plays, mainly so that they can make us all experience a taste of what it feels like to make a terrible decision in an NFL game. That is unless the league’s quarterbacks negotiate to ban the view in the next collective bargaining agreement after it victimizes too many of them the way it did Marcus Mariota on Thursday night.

But broadcasters already have to turn back to the sideline view for third downs, red-zone plays and presumably crunch time (there was no crunch time Thursday night, but I can’t image they’d use Skycam to broadcast a two-minute drill with a game on the line), and going back and forth between the two angles would probably do more harm than good by preventing fans from becoming acclimated to either view.

The Skycam proved its worth on Thursday night, and we might see more of it as a result. But as a primary live view? Not bloody likely.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

  • John Danknich

    Hated it.

  • David

    Great for replays and on field goals. But not something that should be used too often.

  • Bragar

    No way to gauge depth-no idea how far the play goes downfield. Short and one? Viewers will never know if the ball carrier gets the first down. Nice accent to the regular camera-not a primary shot though.

  • Dan Mundell

    I can imagine there will come a time in the not-so-distant future where the viewer at home will have a choice to watch the standard sideline view on CBS channel 2.1 and the sky-cam view on CBS sub channel 2.2. Or possibly, both on a split screen.

  • Perhaps the SkyCam will be used only on 1st and 2nd downs, with the regular camera on 3rd and 4th downs.