Football Summit 2024 explores the future of football coverage

Chief executive of Belgium’s Pro League Lorin Parys delivers the opening keynote at Football Summit 2024

The Football Summit 2024, sponsored by EVS, took place in Brussels at The Egg on Thursday (29 February), focusing on enhancing televised and online football coverage.

Discussions ranged from the evolution of media rights and the impact on production, to gamification of coverage, cloud-based production and advancements in the use of data and graphics.

SVG Europe chair Alessandro Reitano was first on stage, where he set the tone for the event, emphasising disruption as the new normal and reminding attendees that “every day is a school day”.

Next, Serge Van Herck, chief executive of title sponsor EVS, highlighted the company’s growth, new products, and investments in AI as well as EVS’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

EVS chief executive Serge Van Herck

Lorin Parys, CEO of Belgium’s Pro League, then delivered the keynote address, setting out the changing media landscape in Belgium and Europe, piracy challenges, and providing insight into the Pro League’s wide-ranging partnership with IMG.

Ampere Analysis research manager Daniel Monaghan then provided an overview of the European sports rights market, highlighting the fragmentation of rights that has made it complicated for football fans to watch all the leagues and competitions they want to, and the increase in cost. He also spoke about the role of aggregation and the importance of ancillary content – especially for younger viewers.

View the Ampere Analysis presentation here

Monaghan and Parys then joined the first panel discussion – ‘Playing between the lines: The Rights Revolution and its Impact on Production’ – along with IMG managing director of football Robert Klein and Sunset+Vine executive producer/head of broadcast Nick Moody.

SVG Europe’s Heather McLean

Parys went into more detail about where the league was at in terms of the new media cycle and how it was working with IMG. He said: “We’re at the research stage; we’re in the process of defining what kind of innovations we’re looking at in terms of production and content. We definitely need more interaction and we’re looking at how to get fans more involved,” he said.

IMG’s Klein added: “We’re working to bring value to broadcasters and the fan experience. What the viewing experience of the future will be is a good starting point.” For Klein this will include customisation and localisation. “They’re the questions we’re posing and that we’re working on,” he added.

He also highlighted the importance of ancillary content, a point picked up by Moody. “Football is the whole package; it’s everything that goes around it,” he said. “It’s always about storytelling. With [our coverage for] Prime, we treat every match like it’s a cup final and try to deliver an amazing experience for fans of each team.”

More Football Summit 2024: Picture gallery from the Brussels event

Daf Van Campenhout, head of content at the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) then showcased RBFA’s content strategy and its use of EVS’ MediaHub.

“The volume of content has exploded, so for us it’s a challenge to find our spot. It’s important for us to have a link with our fanbase on different platforms,” he explained.

After lunch it was time for the ‘Sensible Soccer? Inside the Gamification of Football Coverage’ panel (pictured below with SVG Europe’s Will Strauss) with Uwe Koenig (Sky Sport Austria), Dennis Galejski (DFL), and Emili Planas (Mediapro), who discussed innovative approaches to presentation, enhanced graphics, and increased interactivity.

Then, Andy Beale (consultant), Adam Marshall (Grass Valley), Kevin McCue (Sky), and moderator and consultant Ronald Meyvisch explored cloud-based production’s agility and scalability for covering a wider range of matches.

“We shouldn’t constrain ourselves to a linear traditional flow,” explained McCue when speaking about adopting cloud-based workflows. “However it can feel like sometimes we are turning our backs on traditional tech so much occasionally at the expense of stuff that works,” he said – pointing to the trend for using touchscreens instead of dedicated buttons that can be easier for operators.

Attendees were then given an update on the coverage of football in Saudi Arabia, with Peter Van Dam, SPL Media House, chief operating officer and Tom Blake, Imagen from Reuters, sales director discussing the rapid build and scale to cover the Saudi Pro League.

Then, Alexander Mölders, Sky Sport, director of concepts and performance, Sebastian Runge, FIFA, head of football technology and data and Paul Hunt, Genius Sports, sport business director explored the use of statistics, data and graphics to aid the storytelling process.

Said Runge: “When we look at data it’s key for us that we own it and the definitions. There are different definitions in the market with different solutions – we’re looking at if we can align with the football world so we can tell the same story whether a player’s playing in Spain or England.”

Sarah Cheadle and Serge Bellens speaking with SVG Europe’s Heather McLean

Attendees were then given a behind-the-scenes presentation of the new Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and the use of IP media infrastructure for the multi-purpose sports venue by Telefonica’s César Bermejo Guerrero and Ana Marina Collado Jiménez.

And finally, the event concluded with a masterclass on the art of directing with Sarah Cheadle, Sky Sports, senior football director and Serge Bellens, Telenet Play Sports, head of directors providing insights into how they plan and prepare for matches. The duo also talked attendees through clips of matches they had directed, providing a fascinating glimpse into the decision-making process when dealing with the unexpected.

Networking at Football Summit 2024

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