SuperSession Reveals Sports TV's Future

(January 8, 2004) New York, NY--The future of sports broadcasting lies in HD. And in video-over-IP technology. And in high-speed camera tracking. And in desktop audio production. That's according to the panelists at a recent Broadcasting SuperSession on new video technology for sports production, which was held in conjunction with the International Sport Summit 2004, held January 7-9 in New York City.
Indeed, such technologies as high-speed camera tracking, advanced virtual graphics, high-quality desktop audio production, and, of course, high definition, have exploded onto the sports TV market in the past few years. But the key to implementing these technologies successfully is using them in a way that will benefit sports broadcasters and increase the fan and/or audience base. So says panelist Jerry Gepner, president of National Mobile Television. He pointed out a few examples of technologies that have helped improved sporting events for fans-- the 1st & Ten line, "Sky" and other types of cameras placed in previously-reachable spots in or around the playing field, and high-speed camera tracking. He said one of the reasons these technologies were so successful was because they enhanced the fan's experience of the game. "The system cannot mock, trivialize, or make light of a sporting event," he said. He pointed out the now-notorious "glowing puck," that Fox Sports attempted to use in its hockey broadcasts a few years ago. It was failure, he said, because it seemed to be mocking the game itself.
Dan Colantonio, coordinating director of remote productions for ESPN, would concur. He said the reason the SkyCam, which his company uses regularly for Sunday Night Football broadcasts, has been so popular is because it helps give fans a view of the game they've never seen before, thereby adding to the broadcast. "It's important to make creative applications of existing technology to benefit the viewer."
Panelist Paul Johnson, vice president of new media for the PGA Tour, said his company is using advancements in camera technology to build an archive of all swings/shots made by participants in its golfing events. "We're literally collecting every single shot on the golf course--a tremendous asset for fan development in the future."
So, what does the future hold? Gepner told audience members not to be surprised if many of the most advanced developments in sports video technology come out of homeland security applications. "The ability to truly track and recognize things will eventually impact tracking technologies in sporting events," he said.