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June 13, 2017

Sports Broadcasting to New Heights by Technology

The first ever football match broadcast in the UK was between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Highbury in 1927. Supporters tuned in to hear the commentator describe what was happening. At the same time they referred to a grid in the Radio Times magazine so they knew in which areas of the pitch the action was taking place.

Fast forward 90 years and viewers are now able to choose their own camera angles, watch replays, zoom in on the action, and that’s just the start of it. Huge broadcasting companies have realised the immense amounts of money to be made from showing sports, and over the years have done their best to implement as much new technology as possible to enhance the experience.

The numbers explain why companies need to keep as up to date as possible with the technology they use. The English Premier League auctioned its matches off in 2015 for a record £5.136 billion, which was a 71% increase on the previous TV deal that was in place. Sky got the lion’s share of games after paying £4.2 billion, and the newer company BT Sport got £960 million’s worth of matches to broadcast. Now that the top-flight matches in England are shared between the massive broadcasting companies, the two are trying to outdo each other in terms of the viewing experience offered.

BT Sport has made an effort to improve the commentary on offer, with three specialist pundits along with a guest referee to analyse important decisions. Sky stuck with the traditional two. Both broadcasters, though, feature a team of experts to discuss important points in the intervals. Former professional footballers use smart TVs and draw upon detailed statistics such as distance run, shots on target, and pass completion percentages to give the viewer at home the best possible evaluation.

It’s the stats that have made a huge difference to how people enjoy sport. According to 888poker, without these figures, odds at the bookies wouldn’t exist. But until recently and the advent of the internet, the in-depth numbers hadn’t been available to the everyday public. Now people can use the figures to inform their decisions before betting. And of course, the more people bet on the sports, the more people watch to see if they have won, which also benefits the broadcasters.

Other sports have introduced technology in an effort to attract more people to the game and create an immersive viewing experience. Cricket is one sport that is really going the extra mile to improve audience figures. Technologies such as Hawk-Eye, Hotspot, and the Snicko-meter are frequently used to help layman at home make the same decisions as umpires. It’s these advancements that have made the IPL so popular, and it is expected that the broadcasting rights for the league will go for between 18,000 and 30,000 crores per year until 2027.

One more sport that tends to innovate is rugby, and the recent additions of Ref-cams have provided yet another perspective of the action for viewers. Due to the excessive sums of money that broadcasting companies stand to make from attracting greater numbers of viewers to sports, the more technology developments they embrace, the better.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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Item Reviewed: Sports Broadcasting to New Heights by Technology Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Econ Matters