Virtual Broadcasting

Watch it live from any angle, any location

In Short

On February 26th, 2017, the Virtual Camera of Beyond Sports experienced a world’s first on FOX Sports during the live broadcast of the football match Feyenoord – PSV. Virtual Reality (VR) was used so that viewers could virtually watch the game from angles that were impossible to render before. FOX Sports Eredivisie broadcasted the game on live TV and broadcasting via streaming platform Twitch. During the post- match analysis VR was used to create unique insights into real game situations.

 

The goal

The football reporting is highly susceptible to changing consumer behaviour. Traditional channels are always looking for ways to optimize and enhance relevancy of the displayed content, especially now that viewing number are dropping. FOX Sports has seen that e-gaming, social sharing and the popularity of other digital developments are rapidly growing at the expense of traditional broadcasting. In addition, football games are often already measured digitally and real-time (XYZ of the players and the ball). This data is the source of the Virtual Camera. Football clubs use the Beyond Sports VR Engine to analyse games in Virtual Reality and to train both players and teams. The players are able to relive specific match scenarios and practice on spatial awareness. 

The Virtual Camera is an extension of this engine towards the consumer market. The cameraman documents real-time data in the engine; this makes him invisible for the eye of the viewer, while he has access to unique angles above, around and on the field. Whereas the cameraman normally has a standard position next to the pitch and is not able to enter it, the virtual camera does not have any limitations. This new technology enables the cameraman to manually adjust the position of the virtual camera. By using the controlling system, the position of the camera can be manually adjusted in length, width and height. It could even be placed seen from a player’s perspective, which makes it particularly attractive as being part of a unique customer experience.

 

The Result

FOX Sports, ChyronHego (a data provider) and the Virtual Camera team worked closely together before and during the game. Entered match data was processed through the VR engine and fully simulated with a delay of only four frames per second. The cameraman stepped into this virtual world and recorded the digital game using the Virtual Camera.

FOX Sports broadcasted on their channel the virtual simulation of the entire game. Football fans without a FOX Sports subscription could watch the Virtual Broadcast on the live streaming service Twitch. The broadcast generated a virtual simulation of the whole game and the stream recreated the match in top view. Besides Twitch, the game was also transmitted onto the Feyenoord App.

During the FOX Sports post game show “This was the Weekend” (in Dutch “Dit was het Weekend”), which aired later on Sunday, the game was analysed by using several VR simulations. The present analysts could relive several situations of the match in VR, through the eyes of the players and coach. 

The exact same integration can easily be provided with for most major football competitions as long as the tracking there is also facilitated by ChyronHygo (as is the case for UCL, EPL, Bundesliga, etc.). The Virtual Camera has received much attention thanks to Dutch media coverage in: AD, BNR, RTL, Adformatie, Voetbal Primeur and NRC Next. The free publicity online reached about 2 million people, while 2.62 million viewers watched the Virtual camera man on TV and even 3 million read about it through printed media. More than 18.000 people watched the visualised game online on the Twitch livestream.

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