CBS Sports Network Update

I’m working on a breakdown of NBCSN, but in the meantime, here’s a quick update to my previous look at CBS Sports Network’s Hockey graphics package.

One thing I disliked about the previous broadcast was the use of a Picture-in-Picture game clock in their score bar. Naturally, a PiP game clock is never desirable but it’s sometimes necessary due to technical limitations. Whatever technical limitations existed in Western Michigan’s Lawson Ice Arena two weeks ago did not exist in Minnesota Duluth’s Amsoil Arena last week, as that broadcast showcasing WMU at Duluth featured a proper game clock. It seemed to be actually synced with the arena clock, rather than manually operated, but I can’t be sure.

Here’s a quick look at the CBS score bar, with proper clock:


Looks much better. The whole look is more cohesive, the clock is much clearer and easier to read, and the dark blue background behind the clock is more consistent with the rest of the graphics. The blue bar below the scoreboard is the starting lineup “dangler” caught in mid transition.

Another change is an alternate background color for Western Michigan. As the away team, WMU is wearing black, and this is quickly and immediately discernible from the scoreboard graphic. I have mixed thoughts on this practice, however, which I’ll expand on in a future post.


A proper clock also significantly improves the score lower third, which looked nasty.

Something I forgot to mention last time was Typography. I’m not a “classically trained” graphic designer, or else I surely would have commented on it. Anyway, CBS Sports currently uses Klavika, following in the footsteps of ESPN. Like most broadcasters, CBS has elected to use an all caps (and in some places, small caps) for increased readability. Indeed, the graphics are extremely clear, even after the terrible JPG compression induced by my screen capture process. All caps are generally regarded as less readable as the amount of text increases, but CBS does a decent job of limiting the amount of text on most graphics (one exception is the “Coming Up” graphic).

While I originally only intended to grab a shot of the scoreboard with clock, while the broadcast was on I grabbed a couple more shots of titles that jumped out at me (after the jump!). 


I liked this tidy little graphic used during the introduction to the broadcast. The composition of the shot is nice as well.


I’m not sure if I missed this one last week, or if they never showed it. This is a poor graphic, though. I feel that the names should be indented a bit, to break up the text, and perhaps the size differential between label and names could be altered. Tons of negative space on the right, there’s a weird darker horizontal bar, and the spacing between each line of text seems to arbitrarily differ.


What is this?!? This was used during some throws to commercial in place of the (much better looking) score lower third shown a couple images above. The style is completely different from anything else shown during the broadcast. No dark blue, no thick edges, no curves, and the right edge is angled considerably more than the left. It’s vaguely ESPN looking. I’m wondering if this is a vestige of last year’s graphics package, or maybe it’s coming from a different keyer/character generator as it’s accompanied by the CBSSN “ice cube” which was slowly growing in size. It is using Klavika, though, which is purportedly new to CBS for this year. That right edge! Why is it so slanted?! This needs to go.


The 1st intermission featured this two-box with commentator names. I don’t really like how the names aren’t centered under each commentator, but on the whole it’s a nice treatment.


CBS really likes to incorporate player headshots into their graphics. And boy, does it look good when they do. I’d like to steal this one for RPI TV.


We saw a similar graphic last time, but this one has four boxes and features RPI, so it gets included.


A couple notes on this one: There wasn’t a 4 on 4 scenario during the last roundup — I find it interesting that the dangler all the way left aligned rather than right aligned under the game clock. PIM/Game is a good stat as well. At the time of this broadcast, I believe RPI was ranked #1 or tied for #2.


My viewing experience was significantly improved by CBS EyeVision™.


Most goals were announced via scoreboard dangler, but the first WMU goal apparently deserved this. Not sure why season goal/assist totals weren’t show in parenthesis next to each name…


…I guess because that information would be redundant! The graphic transitioned into this, again replicating a message that is usually conveyed via dangler. I did like the quick slide transition that was used.




Interesting variant on the player statscard. Also note the Timeout scoreboard dangler, which I don’t think has been chronicled thus far.

I’m a bit surprised by the number of “new” graphics in this broadcast. I wonder if CBS’ college hockey suite is under constant development, or if the storylines of this game simply resulted in different opportunities for graphics. What I’m quickly realizing is that I can’t count on one broadcast to give a complete picture, so expect to see more “update” posts.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, I should have an NBCSN post coming up in a couple days. I also discovered that I have access to BTN2Go through Comcast, which has archives of a number of local broadcasts, a couple of which have absolutely tragic graphics packages. WatchESPN also has an ESPNU game in its archive, so I should have an ESPN breakdown prior to the previously mentioned February date. I suppose at some point I should break down RPI TV and some of the other webstream only broadcasts.

Longer term, I hope to set up a graphics database/catalog (RAILS?!) with tagging, allowing for the ability to browse graphics by network, type, and sport. Before too long, I hope to branch out of College Hockey to NHL, then on to MLB probably, since MLB has the greatest variety of broadcasters and graphics packages, including some godawful ones (KCAL and MASN, I’m looking at you!).

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