When the global coronavirus pandemic hit earlier in the year country lockdowns were put in place and almost all live sports globally were put on hold. However, fast forward to now and live sports are happening – just differently.
Here at Gravity Media, we caught up with Steve Norris Director of Production & Content to discuss his thoughts.
How can technology help with the return to live sporting events (for both fans and athletes)?
Steve explained how it already has! To everybody’s relief live sport is back on their screens and to deliver this we have had to change the way we work.
The first priority has been the safety of everybody involved in the broadcast. Traditionally a sports broadcast has involved lots of people working in confined spaces. That doesn’t work in a COVID-19 world and we have had to create distance and space between our delivery teams. To do this we have relied upon of ‘remote’ solutions using connectivity and fibre technology to deliver signals and workflows to a multitude of different locations.
Put simply that means not everybody needs to be in the same place to televise a sports event. The commentators can be in one location, the director in another and the graphics operators somewhere else. The links of the chain can now be spaced apart without any compromise in quality.
It could be some time before fans are allowed back into stadia but using sound technology created for the gaming world, broadcasters have been able to deliver an ‘enhanced’ audio feed that goes some way to re-creating the live experience of that stadium atmosphere. It doesn’t appeal to everybody, but it does show a degree of creative thinking that the pandemic has forced upon us.
Engaging fans even further has been done through applications that allow multiple fans to watch events together through multiple video streams and interact with each other.
Using the technology wisely, thinking about how we protect our staff and how to deliver a live broadcast has been a major success for the sports industry and also a huge boost for the country.
Will sporting events ever return to how they once were, or will technology facilitate a "new normal"?
Technology has always been changing the way sport has been covered. Look at a cricket or football broadcast from 30 years ago and compare it to today’s coverage, it’s almost unwatchable!
Right now, we are all focused about how we deliver sports safely in a COVID-19 world. It’s less about editorial creativity and more about using technology as the solution to the problem.
For the fan at home there has not been a massive change, apart, from the lack of fans. Viewers at home still like to see their coverage and presentation being delivered ‘pitch side’ from a packed stadium of 90,000 spectators. I suspect we are a long way from that being back to normal. But the most important thing is that they have live sport to watch and the quality of coverage is not noticeably different from the pre-coronavirus world.
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