SVGE Football Production Summit: all about perspectives

When it comes to perspectives on football broadcasting, one of the interesting facets of the discussions at the Summit was the preponderance of mentions of the second screen. But then, as Luc Doneux, from EVS pointed out: “Euro 2012 is the first major even where second screen technology will be deployed on a global scale, so it’s an important year for technical innovation in sports.”

Which is perhaps why so many of the discussions headed off away from traditional broadcast topics and into the realms of tablets, data and social media: Euro 2012 will be the first time that the second screen – the surprise hot topic of IBC last year – will be deployed en masse and in earnest.

“We’re hitting the upper limits of what we can do inside stadia,” said Jim Irving, Commercial Director, deltatre. “32 cameras supplies a fantastic level of production value. Meanwhile, for 2012 you will see several broadcasters see delivery to figures in the millions over IP. That’s why we’ve invested at this point.

Several millions over IP doesn’t sound a lot when compared to broadcast viewing figures – certainly when compared to the 151m per match that Euro 2008 generated – but it does sound a lot when compared to the the internet figures for that year, which were measured more in the tens of thousands. Hence the reason for clubs and broadcasters moving in that direction.

“We stopped bringing more and more cameras to the screen several years ago,” said François-Charles Bideaux, Director of Sports Production, Canal+.”We have gone into other directions to improve the quality of the feed: tracking, data, and so on…But all this data is too much for the main screen. If you have too much material on screen it makes a distance between the viewer and the event.”

What was interesting was to hear a director – Steve Smith of Sky Sports – talk about any gains of adding more cameras being marginal. “It’s all about the management of the cameras and the management of the people,” he said. “You add more cameras, you add more cameramen and you add more egos, and at any time you can only ever have one angle on the screen.”

His contention is also that data has not been brought onto the linear screen as well as it could have been, though this is changing as a new generation of football pundits come out of the game and into television who are more than used to using tracking data to analyse the play. As Shimon Katzubes, Managing Director – SportVU, STATS put it: “We can build a chain and it must fit all the way to the viewer and go through the talent. The request is to give me the best quality commentating tools in realtime. They’re pushing things to get it not to the first replay, but to the live feed.”

Meanwhile, the clubs are looking at video more as an element of social media offerings than anything, though as Kieron Kilbride, Director of Business Development, Football League, pointed out: “No-one talks in terms of the ROI of social media, because no one knows what the ROI of it is. We just all hope that it makes some money for us further down the track. But you can drive revenue on some very small morsels of content, especially creative editorial content.”

Some, such as Giuliano Giogetti, Head of Web & New Media, AC Milan, pointed out the difficulties of creating new video content that wasn’t already covered by rights contracts, though as Russell Stopford from Manchester City FC added, the key content for fans is still precisely that video.

“Broadcasters are never going to have the same relationship with fans as clubs want,” he added. “It’s a case of the clubs working beside the broadcasters, on second screen and Facebook and elsewhere, to amplify both experiences.”


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