It held fans’ attention during lockdown, saved leagues and kept competitions alive when most sports journalists and their teams could not move to stadiums. Today, every media specialist agrees on the fact that this element is the one that will determine live sports broadcast. We are talking about remote production.
Sports events broadcast changed
Before COVID-19, the possibility of broadcasting an event using only an internet connection and a computer already existed. But it was never tested in such a massive way, and even more important, it was never thought it would work so well. Fans attentively received the new formats, and rights holders saw the chance to invest in more spectacular productions, saving the money used to move human teams.
The broadcast of sports events have to become more spectacular. The closer the image and the story is to a cinema production or to a video game, the better it will result to compete with the rest of the networks’ contents. It is not excessive, new sports content consumption is radically different from the past. The first thing, and the most important one, is that big screens or buying a bigger TV are not so important for the audience when the World Cup or Super Bowl are about to start. This does not mean that they are not watching it there anymore, but that the percentage of viewers choosing computers, smart phones or tablets for consuming content has continuously grown.
Short and exciting contents that can be shared and viewed swiftly, commented with your network of friends, and end up being viral. This is what happens with the best minutes of the game. Utterly essential to catch the youngest audience. But also, to monetize them using a model that is cheaper for the user than streaming or sports TV channel subscriptions. The key is that those highlights do not compete against other sports, but against any other spectacular content on the internet. Their success depends on the uniqueness of live broadcasts.
Live production updated
Another point of great interest for live production is to get the closest vision to the player for the audience. Ideally, they seek to see what the player sees at grass level, keep an eye on rivals, and on their own team. In some games of the All Blacks artificial intelligence was used to coordinate the flight of drones with cameras flying close to the players. Shots are more similar to video game players’ vision than to the traditional sports fan one.
But not everything depends on technology. It is also key to capture the reactions because emotions are contagious. The Premier League has accomplished it very effectively with ‘celebration cams’. They are fixed cams that do not need a human operator but shoot at very interesting points.
New interactive live streaming model
Live broadcast cannot be bound to the limits of traditional TV models, as the examples mentioned above. Two big companies that compete for broadcast rights, Amazon and Twitch, go for an interactive live streaming model. Here the key is not on the image, but on the most famous streamers’ analysis and interpretation of the game, and how their followers can interact with them, talking and sending messages.
This permanent connection with the social networks and the online media is not optional any more for live broadcasts, or stadiums. Every sports event has to be shareable. It is far from being an individual experience in the stand or on the couch. Now, it is an online event with friends and your networks. The efforts for deploying a 5G network in stadiums responds to this demand: the fan has to be able to be in the stands and on the internet at the same time. The same happens with live broadcasts. For every channel, classic or new, the audience’s opportunity to participate, commenting and sharing must be as relevant as the opportunity their commentators and producers have to do the same.
All traditional sports channels, all over the world and in any country, fail in their efforts to increase their audience. But, at the same time, content creators have more and more followers in their communities, with sports contents also included. Maybe the future is not just about learning from each other but about becoming a common team that gathers the best of both, making fans experience the emotions of the best live broadcast and building the loyalty of new audiences.