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A score bug (or, in an expanded form, a score banner or scorebar) is a digital on-screen graphic which is displayed at either the top or lower third bottom of the television screen during a broadcast of a sporting event in order to display the current score and other statistics.
The first television network in the United States to utilize a score bug (digital on-screen graphic) was ABC, which used one on the telecast of the 1994 Purolator 500 NASCAR event. A transparent digit counted down the number of laps remaining in the race. A similar bug was used during ABC's telecast of the 1994 Indianapolis 500 and 1994 Brickyard 400. ABC also incorporated the score bug for its 1994 World Cup coverage, providing the time and score of the game as well as enabling advertiser sponsorship to broadcast games without interruption. Later that fall, Fox introduced a full-score bug for its NFL coverage, known as the "FoxBox", as did cable network ESPN. ABC expanded theirs to Monday Night Football in 1997. CBS introduced theirs upon reassuming broadcast rights to the NFL in the fall of 1998, and NBC in 2001 during its coverage of the XFL.
Fox used a score banner for its NASCAR coverage in 2001. Fox then expanded the scoring banner to all sports telecasts. Fox Sports Net also uses a scoring banner for basketball, hockey, baseball and soccer coverage, as do many other local broadcasters of sporting events.
ABC introduced a Fox-like banner, but along the bottom of the screen, for Monday Night Football in 2005, its last year of the franchise. The network introduced a revised version on February 5, 2006, during an NBA game telecast, as well as during that day's presentation of Super Bowl XL, which quickly became used for all sports broadcasts on the network. ABC returned to using a bug in September of that year when the network's sports division was absorbed by ESPN. NBC also began using a scoring banner, along the bottom of the screen like ABC's, in 2005 for its coverage of Notre Dame football home game telecasts, which also quickly became used for other sports telecasts on the network.
The networks of Turner Broadcasting System used traditional score bugs until TBS began broadcasting the 2007 Major League Baseball Division Series, in which they converted to a top screen banner. ESPN began using a banner starting with the 2006 FIFA World Cup and MLB Home Run Derby, a bottom-screen banner for NBA and AFL telecasts and in 2007, a top-screen banner for NASCAR and baseball telecasts, plus a center-screen bug for its Monday Night Football telecasts in 2006 and 2007 before switching to a bottom-screen banner in 2008. Starting in 2007, the channel began using banners for its college football and college basketball telecasts. In addition, ESPN's college sports telecasts added two (lacrosse), three (college football) or five (college basketball) yellow stripes, representing the timeouts the team has left to use on the banner. Timeout indicators were also added for ESPN's Monday Night Football telecasts, beginning with Week 4 of the 2009 NFL season. In 2006, CBS began using a bottom-of-the-screen banner for NCAA basketball telecasts, but retained the traditional box for all NFL broadcasts, but as of 2009[update] uses a banner for college football and NFL games at the top of the screen. Sibling network CBS College Sports however, began using a top-screen banner for baseball in 2008, which later expanded to other sports, duplicating the bottom screen banners for basketball. The one exception among all the networks is motor racing, as all of them will use scrolling banners for these races. In 2007, TBS began using a top-screen banner for postseason baseball broadcasts, and continued into the 2008 season, returning to a longer bug in 2009. In 2017, TBS switched to a much shorter score bug, also for its MLB postseason coverage.
For the 2008 college football season, Fox Sports Net adopted a new graphics package and reverted to the scoring bug on the top left-hand corner of the screen for football, hockey, and baseball, while on the bottom right-hand corner for basketball. Fox then adopted these graphics for its 2009 Major League Baseball telecasts, but retained the banner for its NFL broadcasts for that year.
In 2010, NFL Network's Thursday Night Football changed from a center-screen scoring bug at the top of the screen to a center-screen banner at the bottom of the screen. TNF switched to a more traditional scoring banner in 2012.
For the 2010 NFL season, Fox reverted to a scoring bug for its broadcasts, which also added timeout indicators. The same scoring bug would be used for Fox Sports Net's college football broadcasts the following year (2011).
For the 2017 NFL season, Fox switched to a traditional bottom-of-the-screen score bar for the league's broadcasts, thus becoming the last of the league's five broadcast partners (CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC and NFL Network) to make the switch. The same score bar would be used for college football coverage on both Fox and FS1 that same year. Fox Sports Net's regional networks also implemented a similar score bar for the 2017-18 NBA season.
Score bugs also appear in many sports video games, such as those in the Madden NFL, NBA 2K and MLB: The Show series, acting the same way as their real-world television counterparts (and in some cases, as part of brand integration deals with broadcasters, utilizing the same presentation elements as specific television broadcasts).
Coupling with tickers
- Character generator
- Screen burn-in, a side effect in some cases of digital on-screen graphics