When we noted earlier today Fox's apparent use of old video during last night's NLCS broadcast from St. Louis, we asked how such a thing might happen—and if it was simply a mistake or a revelation that much of what we assume is a live broadcast is, indeed, not live at all.


We received several emails from people who work in the television industry that helped shed some light on exactly how this happens. Put simply, most aerial shots (known as "exterior beauties" in the biz) that don't actually show game action from a distance aren't live. In fact, many of them weren't even filmed by the broadcasting network at all, but supplied to them by the local tourism bureau or acquired from stock image companies. An editor loads the video into the truck's playback system, making the program's producer aware of what's available so it can be slotted into a rundown. Sometimes this goes awry, like when ESPN ran footage of Charlotte during a game in Jacksonville. The editor also tries to make sure the video "matches" (i.e. doesn't show snow if it's a game in September). Sometimes revealing clues slip through the cracks, though, as happened last night.

The director, for his or her part, has no idea what footage the aerial reel contains; that job is, in the end, simply following the program put together by the producer (upon whose head responsibility ultimately lands). It's likely no aerial shots were usable from last night's game due to the weather that led to its lengthy mid-game delay, so the stock footage well became the only way to provide the pretty arch shot. In the end the blunder provides a few laughs—but understanding a bit more about how the action on the field becomes the images on your TV screen is always interesting.