QX5 showcases transmitter technology as Sky Sports deploys at rugby union match

Putting microphones on players brings TV sports viewers closer to the action and gives a sense of how players interact. This is already established in both the US for baseball and basketball and in rugby countries such as Australia but is now starting to happen in the UK. BT Sport and the BBC have been testing lightweight transmitters developed by Q5X, and on 12 September Sky Sports used the same technology during a northern hemisphere rugby union match for the first time.

The game between Scarlets and Ulster featured a microphone on the Irish team’s centre Stuart McCloskey. Sky Sport’s executive producer of rugby union, Gus Williamson, commented that the broadcaster was always looking to give viewers the best possible experience: “I’m extremely excited about what Player Mic will offer. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the team at Ulster Rugby, who have been fantastic throughout. Their backing means we can now take fans right into the heart of the game as we get up close and personal with the players and listen in on what happens out on the field.”

A Sky Sports spokesman told SVG Europe that the appearance of the Player Mic at the Scartlets-Ulster match was “very much a trial” and depended on both clubs agreeing to implement the technology. “If both are up for it we will use it,” he said.

The BBC has been trialling player mics in its coverage of rugby league’s Challenge Cup. Among the games featuring the Q5X QT-5100 PlayerMic system was the clash between Leeds Rhinos – with its prop forward Jamie Peacock wearing the mic – and Huddersfield Giants in May. After the match Peacock said he tried to dominate the action verbally as well as physically, describing watching and listening to himself back as “cringeworthy”. BT Sport is also using this approach although SVGE was unable to confirm which sports were involved.

Q5X exhibited the QT-5100 on the Canford stand during last weekend’s IBC in Amsterdam and picked up a Best in Show Award. The company’s Paul Johnson said the technology was already used widely in the US and was now making in-roads into Europe. He added that the transmitter has been engineered to be “a little bit” smaller and is designed to be flexible and robust, with a waterproof version also available. “It will be used at the 2016 Rio Olympics for rowing,” he commented, “and trials of it are being done for cycling. In the future we think it will be the norm for players to be miked up but in some sports they will have to learn to control their language.”

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