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Second screen is future of interactive coverage

The greatest change to live sports coverage over the next few years will be the second screen as a complement to live broadcasts.

The greatest change to live sports coverage over the next few years will be the second screen as a complement to live broadcasts, writes Adrian Pennington.

“While we may see more HD cameras covering an event, or more specialist hi-speed cameras, the overall concept won’t change radically. What is changing is the idea that viewers can interact with live sports on a second screen,” said Luc Doneux, EVS’ Head of Major Events (pictured).

He cites the example of a Formula One race in which individual viewers might choose to watch a replay of the start from multiple angles at any time of their choosing on an iPad, while the host broadcast continues uninterrupted.

“When interactive TV was first introduced a decade ago the problem was that if one person wanted to interact with something on screen they often did so to the detriment of the viewing experience of others in the same room,” he said. “Second screen devices now make complementary viewing possible.”

Suitable applications are almost here. The new Sky Go app (pictured), for iPad, iPhone and laptop, is essentially a way to watch Sky Sports channels on the move, however, the Sky News for iPad app shows what’s possible with greater interactivity, offering the ability to get more video and graphics with further information about stories.

The impact on sports stakeholders is twofold. “Firstly, where rights holders have been splitting rights into FTA, live, mobile, internet, highlights and other subsets, we see the larger account holders (e.g. UEFA, FIFA) moving to tie them all together and sell to one organisation. It is then up to the client broadcaster to supply content in multiple ways,” said Doneux.

“Secondly, more screens, and the ability to distribute more content by broadband, will open up opportunities to cover other sports. There are significant fan bases for sailing, judo or other minor sports that can be served by a cost-effective ‘traditional’ HD acquisition-to-distribution infrastructure. We might see Google, for instance, deciding to cover some so-called smaller sports. At the same time the flagship events – Olympics, Champions League – will be produced with ever greater emphasis on production values, graphics and immersive experiences.”