The Future of Live Sports Broadcasting

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(Spalk is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

It’s hard to believe that it was less than 85 years ago that the Olympic Games were first broadcast live on TV. 

In those short 85 years, sports broadcasting has gone from shaky, black and white transmissions available only to a few hundred television sets around the stadium, to events like the recent Cricket World Cup, where the International Cricket Council and their broadcast partners televised the event in over 220 countries where it was watched by more than 750 million unique viewers.

With the added help of mobile technology, it has never been easier for fans to watch their favorite sports.

SEE MORE: Spalk Helps MLSE Reach Multilingual Fan Base

Alongside technological innovations benefiting the fan, there’s also been plenty of development in recent years to improve the workflow for the broadcasters producing these large scale events.

The late 2010s have been all about software’s growing involvement in live sports production. Here are a few examples:

  • Cameras from organizations like Keemotion, Playsight & Pixellot are automating the role of the camera-operator and producer. Rather than having a camera-operator following the action on the field and a producer in a truck choosing camera angles, these organizations push the live images into the cloud and follow the game’s action on computer monitors and build a narrative on the broadcast.
  • Once the images have been produced, they can be handed off to virtual commentary companies like Spalk & Suitcase TV. This saves commentators from flying to the venue or the studio to call the game. Instead, they can sit at home and commentate from a laptop while the broadcaster receives low-latency, broadcast-quality audio in different languages or styles.
  • Finally, there’s no longer a need to have a group of analysts rewatching game tape to identify and clip together a highlights reel in time for tomorrow’s newscast. Instead, software from companies like WSC, Reely & Grabyo can instantly analyze & produce highlights reels for any given play, player or other data parameter quicker than the sports fan at home can refresh Twitter.

The opportunities that the internet has created for live sports production are finally reaching a critical mass thanks to the availability of connectivity, devices & hardware.

Take an organization like FIBA who manage the live streaming production for over 2,500 youth basketball games each year all on a budget smaller than a single PGA Tour Event. They do it through automation and partnerships with new-age, internet enabled applications like Spalk (Commentary), WSC (Highlights), Keemotion (Camera Production) & Genius Sports (Statistics).

Another example is FIA Formula E, who are blending traditional broadcast techniques with new platforms like streaming to Twitch and Caffeine along with various social gamification tools like the Fan vs Professional Driver eRace to grow their global audience.

This movement of leveraging new internet-enabled, production applications, which some professionals are calling the Virtual Production Stack, is re-defining how the modern sports broadcaster produces their events and drives engagement on live sports content.

With this wave of technology, it is feasible that in less than 100 years from the first live broadcast of the Olympic Games available to only a few thousand people, fans will see a fully automated Olympic production reaching more than half of the world’s population.