As the world gradually exits the coronavirus lockdown, the sports industry must navigate a new normal of “behind closed doors” events, remote fans and social distancing.
This represents a logistical challenge for broadcast production, as we have seen with the resumption of the German Bundesliga, not least in compensating for a lack of stadium atmosphere. But opportunities abound, such as the chance to experiment with new ways of delivering live sport and engaging with fans.
Creating atmosphere without fans
Whistle-to-whistle production and coverage are unlikely to change, but the lack of fans and atmosphere has to be addressed. Action can be shot to focus more on the field of play and tactical areas, so that empty seats do not dominate. Empty arenas mean crews have space to try out more camera angles from new perspectives to broaden the options available for the live editing of match coverage and highlights.
Fan reactions can be substituted with cutaways to players and team dugouts. Greater emphasis on sound from the field and technical areas could even enhance existing practice, but this may require measures to limit any inappropriate language or behaviour. This offers a positive opportunity for sports organisers to implement new rules and guidelines. There may also be scope for incorporating reactions remotely from audiences through regulated watch parties, apps, social media or public viewings with adequate social distancing.
Introducing more sound effects and music during walk-ons, after a goal or around replays could generate excitement, while lighting could create an additional sense of drama. The greater use of smart and interactive statistics, graphics and performance data, using enhanced automated data tools such as DEEP, will diversify coverage and fill in downtime.
Show more action!
To safeguard value and revenue, it may make sense to consider broadcasting more matches, even simultaneously. Online and OTT offer the greatest potential for this approach, which could draw in revenue for rights holders, broadcasters and all sponsors, including brands that normally only engage with fans in the arena.
It’s not just about the match
Beyond the match, fans now crave more archive and post-production content. For rights holders, in particular, there is scope to leverage exclusive access to athletes and “behind-the-scenes” content to enhance their own channel offerings.
Innovative content production tools, such as those offered through Infront Lab, can be deployed by all players in the sports world, with startups including DEEP, WSC Sports and minute.ly offering exciting new ways to bring sport to life beyond live action.
Tackling the pirates
More than ever, the industry will need to act against online piracy, which has spiked during the lockdown. Infront’s anti-piracy tools, fuelled by AI-powered software, can track and eliminate pirated versions of content across all platforms.
Rights holders and broadcasters can potentially convert audiences of pirated content to legitimate services, through an enhanced offerings powered by sophisticated content automation tools from WSC Sports or minute.ly.