|Johannesburg, June 9 – Big matches, big moments, big innovation.
Live international sport continues its welcome return this week with the resumption of Spain’s LA Liga heralding the comeback of big-time soccer.
With a two-game line-up on SuperSport this weekend, LaLiga matches will look and sound far different than they did before the league was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The innovations have been implemented in two main areas: virtualisation of stands and fan audio as well as new camera positions and the images they will offer to viewers.
“We have made these broadcasting changes so fans can enjoy LaLiga,” said LaLiga president Javier Tebas. “We work with global partners to offer a great viewer experience. We are in an exceptional situation, but for us it has been important to be able to adapt and offer a compelling, cutting-edge broadcast to our fans.”
The biggest change for the return of the competition is the virtualised broadcasting that LaLiga will offer for international broadcast.
For these broadcasts, the stands will be virtualised and offer to-scale images of seated fans wearing the colours of the home club. For moments when the game is stopped, this image of fans can be transformed into a canvas that matches the colour of the home team and will carry institutional messages, among other offerings.
This innovative broadcast strategy will also feature virtual sound. Through this, the audio library of LaLiga official sponsor EA, which was recorded in real stadiums, has been used and digitally adapted to be implemented in real time during matches.
The matches will also be seen differently due to new camera positions.
Some cameras will shift their location to positions where they would previously have affected the sightline of fans in the stands. Among other examples, the aerial camera will modify its flight path to offer new shots, the bench camera will be moved to the opposite stand, while robotic cameras will be used in the tunnel for reasons of health safety.
Saturday sees Espanyol against Alaves (SS1/SS4/SS7/SSM/SSM2, 2pm) and on Sunday Athletic Bilbao play Atletico Madrid (SS1/SS7/SS4/SSM/SSM2, 2pm).
In a pioneering move, athletics will host the Impossible Games on two continents on Thursday (CSN/SL3G/SS1/SS1A/SS8/SS8A/SSM, 8pm) when Team Cheruiyot will race against formidable Norwegian brothers Team Ingebrigsten (Henrik, Filip, and Jakob) as part of the Impossible Games in a novel 2000m race.
While the Europeans compete at the Bislett Stadium in Oslo, 1500m world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Manangoi, Edwin Meli, Vincent Keter, and Timothy Sein will race at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium. There won’t be a single fan in the stands due to the pandemic.
Cheruiyot will be joined by his predecessor as world champion, Elijah Manongoi, as the two teams compete to see which team can clock the best overall 2000m time from its top three runners.
While the race is being held as a team event, individual performances will also count, with the three Ingebrigtsen brothers aiming to break Steve Cram’s European record of four minutes 51.39 seconds.
PGA golf also makes its long-awaited return this week, with the Charles Schwab Classic in the US starting on Thursday, June 11 (CSN/SS1/SS1A/SS5/SS5A/ SS5N, 10pm). It, too, will boast innovation in the absence of live crowds with several golfers expected to be mic’d up, which will add a fascinating dimension to television broadcasts.
Ultimate Fighting Championship will also feature this weekend with UFC Fight Night headlined by Jessica Eye and Cynthia Calvillo in a flyweight showdown in Las Vegas (SS1 and SS11, from 4am Sunday).