NBC misidentifies ‘America the Beautiful’ singer in graphic during Super Bowl

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During its telecast of Super Bowl LVI Feb. 13, 2022, NBC Sports made what some are calling a “tone def” error by mixing up two singers during pre-game coverage.

As part of the pre-game festivities, the network correctly identified Sarah Mae Frank, who was providing sign language interpretation of “America the Beautiful” and the national anthem on a second screen experience when she appeared briefly on the broadcast network’s air.

The announcer then introduced Jhene Aiko, but the network cut to a shot of Mickey Guyton, who was slated to perform “The Star Spangled Banner” after Aiko.

Guyton’s appearance was accompanied by a lower third “chyron” identifying her as Aiko. Guyton could be seen clapping politely but likely didn’t realize she was on camera.

The production team then quickly switched to Aiko’s performance and inserted the chyron reading “Jhene Aiko” again, this time over the correct person.

NBC Sports issued an apology.

“Leading into Jhene Aiko singing ‘America the Beautiful,’ we incorrectly showed Mickey Guyton and misidentified her before showing Aiko’s performance,” an NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement. “We apologize to both artists for the error.”

From a production standpoint, the error was likely the result of a combination of errors.

First, it’s likely the wrong camera feed was called or punched up by the production control room.

Most productions, especially those at this scale, have a separate team running graphics. Given that the pre-game lineup was set well in advance, NBC likely had a graphics rundown prepared that meant that Aiko’s lower third was called up automatically after Frank’s.

When the network accidentally took the shot of Guyton, it would have been relatively easy for the control room to call to insert the graphic without realizing it was the wrong name.

That said, it’s also likely that the opening proceeding were rehearsed to at least some degree, a practice that’s done, in part, to help the TV production teams familiarize themselves with blocking and who will be standing where.

Social media, meanwhile, had a field day with the error, noting that the two signers don’t actually look that much alike.

Guyton identifies as Black, while Aiko has Spanish, Dominican, Japanese descent, Native American, AfricanAmerican and German Jewish lineage.

While commonly referred to as “chyrons,” the graphics used to identify people show on screen are not necessarily produced using technology from the company known as Chyron. Generically they are more properly referred to as “lower thirds,” “insert graphics” or “banners.”