Rob Alberino leads an onsite team of 20+ creating a wide variety of content
Kansas City Chiefs VP, Content and Production, Rob Alberino and a team of more than 20 video and podcast creators arrived in Las Vegas yesterday, ready to capture Opening Night tonight and everything else Super Bowl LVIII Week will offer.
“It’s overwhelming,” says Alberino, who is working his fourth Super Bowl (he went to the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last year, the Eagles in 2005, and the 49ers in 2020). “It’s important for the team to not let it get too big. When someone hits that field for the first time, their eyes are wide open; it’s that overwhelming. But you need to remember it’s just another game. It just happens to be seen by a billion people.”
The Chiefs are at the intersection of one of the most interesting entertainment/sports storylines in a while: the romantic relationship between future Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce and arguably the most popular pop star on the planet, Taylor Swift. The media frenzy over Swift’s attendance at Chiefs games has led to an uptick in followers for all of the team’s social-media channels.
“It has been an amazing transformation,” says Alberino. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 30 years working with NFL teams. My daughters think this is the greatest thing, my wife is like this is the greatest thing, and we’re getting viewership from people we would have never seen. It is bringing us to another level. It’s also leveling the playing field as we have dads and daughters talking about it. I’ve never seen a social[-media] movement be this impactful.”
The impact that Kelce-Swift has had on the Chiefs’ social-media demographics exemplifies how a content strategy needs to serve up content the way a restaurant offers a buffet. Alberino notes that the Chiefs already had a large female fanbase, and that leads to more under-the-helmet content.
“You’ve got your hard-core fans, and they want NFL Films–style long-form storytelling,” he explains. “That may be the meat-and-potatoes, but there are others who want the buffet and snackable items. I think that content tailors, no pun intended, toward snackable items like music videos and fun, pop-culture stuff. [Those others’] appetite for content has been significant, which is wonderful.”
Key, he adds, is a content-production team primarily in the 25- to 30-year-old age group. They understand consumability and what type of content can move the needle. “It’s not vapid, empty content. It’s fun stuff that gets the players involved and helps the fans understand who the players are.”
Philosophically, Alberino says, breaking news is not the editorial focus for the Chiefs video-production team. “We are a bit more NFL Films than quick hits. We want to take people where they can’t go. They can get news all day, but what they can’t get is behind the scenes with the players.”
The responsibility to the team, he notes, is to capture the history of a franchise in the midst of one of the most impressive multi-year runs in NFL history. “The stuff we love is being on the tarmac waiting for a new player to arrive. Anyone can tell you they agreed to a contract, but, when you see them hit Kansas City and drive over to meet [Coach] Andy [Reid] for the first time, it’s a really cool thing. That is priceless for us.”
The defending Super Bowl champions had some on-the-field ups and downs this year, but, for Alberino and the team, the goal was to always accentuate the positive.
“The regular season is a marathon,” he notes. “You’re gonna have injuries, you’re gonna have the ups and downs, the dropped balls, the fumbles, but you just have to stay the course. We create a content schedule that doesn’t have huge peaks and valleys.
“My mindset, philosophically and physically, is to remain calm,” he continues. “It’s very similar to Coach Reid, who I worked with during his rookie season as a coach when I was with the Eagles. I have worked with him for 10 years, and he is always super-steady. He’s not gonna bark at people. He doesn’t get too high; he doesn’t get too low. I love that mindset.”
Content for Multiple Platforms: Traditional, Digital, Social, OTT
Alberino leads all content efforts, including creation and distribution across the club’s traditional, digital, social, and over-the-top platforms. He also oversees all aspects of game production and presentation and entertainment elements at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
At the core of the Chiefs’ team are Primary Play-By-Play Announcer Mitch Holthus, Senior Reporter Matt McMullen, and Director, Production, Glenn Connelly, who supervises about eight producers.
“Glenn is in charge of the domestic projects,” says Alberino. “We also have a bubble called Special Projects, which is international content, and that is overseen by Director, Production, Special Projects, Joe Helder, who also has a core of people.
“And then there is the Game Day bubble,” he continues, “in charge of everything from getting the flyovers to putting all the big-board stuff together. We are also in charge of all the entertainment teams like cheerleaders, mascots, and flag runners. Stephanie Judah, director, business operations, is in charge of all that. And then there is the photography department and interns. [The video-production team] totals around 26 people.”
The Super Bowl run-up began last week in Kansas City with Media Day and shooting videos and interviews with the players on multiple sets.
“We have a photography set, where we have the players spin the ball or flex, all those sorts of things we need for interstitials,” says Alberino. “CBS Sports also came in, and we were collaborating with them.”
After pushing content to six countries last Friday, the team was given a rest day on Saturday before heading to Vegas on Sunday.
“We tackle Super Bowl Week almost the same way we tackle any week,” Alberino says. “We’ve got podcasts every day and live shows every day, and [the Chiefs have] what’s called Super Bowl Opening Night, when all the players kind of get together. We’re going to have some of the players wired for that.”
The team will also capture video from helicopters flying over Vegas. ”We’ll do some interviews in the helicopter and have chase helicopters doing some really cool stuff,” Alberino explains. “We’ll have one of our guys up there with a camera and some GoPros and get some kick-butt scenics from the other helicopter.”
For an event as important as the Super Bowl, Alberino makes himself available to help whenever and wherever. “I actually demote myself all the way down to grip at times to keep people off my guys so they can shoot.”
Shooting, primarily, with an ARRI Amira camera (the team has five) as well as with an Alexa and Alexa Mini. The team currently relies on Adobe and Frame.io for editing and asset management.
“We will have nine people at Lake Las Vegas who will cut everything,” says Alberino. “Everything is brought in from [Las Vegas] and ingested. We’ll push out content and do our live shows from Lake Las Vegas.”
The Challenge of a ‘Spiderweb’ of Content
One of the challenges with so much content being captured is making sure it is maximized to full effect, says Alberino. “How can we re-appropriate something we shot in multiple places, so that I’m not kind of working in a vacuum? It’s like a spiderweb with the social team covering something and the documentary team covering something. How do you make sure we come back from a shoot with a little bit of something for everybody?”
A cloud-based asset-management system helps with that, ensuring that editors aren’t hunting for footage. “Everything has to be logged properly,” he notes. “You don’t go on another shoot until your stuff is delivered so that everyone here can touch it.”
While the team on the field continues to make history, Alberino and his team are there to capture it. His team, he notes, is an extremely talented one with experience across so many forms of content. “As a producer/director, I don’t think you could ask for more than that.”