During sports television broadcasts, it increasingly seems that there’s no place producers and directors won’t stick a camera in an effort to provide the audience with a different, and perhaps better view, of the action on the field. Ideally, some of these perspective would come from vantage points that just aren’t possible to film with a traditional camera setup and operator.

But filming the goal line during a NFL game is a view that telecasts have needed for a while now — especially as instant replay has become an important factor in deciding calls and outcomes, and any possible angle that helps with that becomes useful. Did the ball cross the goal line? Did the ballcarrier fumble? Was his knee down? Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell when the action is in a particular corner of the field or there’s a large scrum of lineman obscuring the play.


Here comes Pylon Cam to the rescue, courtesy of CBS Sports! This week, the network announced that it will use special pylons outfitted with multiple cameras to film the goal lines and sidelines on each side of the field. The pylon cameras will be used during select Thursday Night Football and regular season NFL on CBS broadcasts. Depending on how well the cameras work and what visual information they provide, we may also see them used for playoff telecasts and Super Bowl 50.

This is what the camera view will look like from last Saturday’s Lions-Jaguars preseason game broadcast on CBS, via CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin.

ESPN tested out a similar sort of camera during the College Football Playoff championship game last January. The angles weren’t used for the main ESPN broadcast, but was seen at times on the Command Center channel on the CFP Megacast.

Those angles could be far more useful and informative during a football telecast than, for example, the “Diamond Cam” Fox sticks between the pitcher’s mound and home plate for its MLB postseason broadcasts. That thing has been used for more than 10 years now, and it’s still difficult to determine what insight it provides, other than “This is what a swing-and-a-miss looks like from a worm’s point of view” and “Look where we put a camera!”

Just because you can put a camera somewhere on a playing field doesn’t always mean networks have to. But “Pylon Cam” could provide some valuable perspectives during this coming NFL season. (However, some feel the cameras will be “worthless.”) If it ends up helping to uphold or overturn a referee’s call, that might be worth revisiting.

[CBS Sports]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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