On a sunny Spring morning I headed into Heathrow Terminal 2, to take an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. I haven’t attended an SVG SportTech event previously, so I was excited at the prospect of getting real insight from the discussion panels and the networking opportunities. On the journey with me was Jason Cowan, Forscene’s Business Development Director.
On arrival at Dublin Airport, we took a taxi to the recently built Aviva Stadium, which, so I have been told, is a magnificent architectural sporting masterpiece, and a fitting location for the event. The stadium is a 51,700 capacity sporting destination and is home to both the Irish Rugby Union team and the Republic of Ireland football team.
After a warm welcome from the SVG event team, we got our badges and mixed with the other delegates in the open bar area. I was introduced to deltatre’s Andrew O’Neil and Tony Page, who would be speaking on one of the panels. deltatre is a long running client of ours and it was good to meet two of the team so soon after arriving. After some brief networking, we were split into two groups and given a tour of the stadium. The conference facilities are great: we were shown into a large presentation theatre where we viewed an informative film about the stadium before and after construction. Following this, we were shown the player field, changing rooms, and were told some lovely anecdotes by a veteran player bag man (that’s actually his profession, may not be the technical term for his role though!). Overall, it was a great introduction to this amazing place.
After some lunch and more networking, the panel discussions kicked off. Here’s my commentary on the presentations:
- Match Day Production in Dublin at the Aviva, hosted by Fergal Ringrose
This was an opening case study of operation, planning and execution for match day events at Aviva. It was an interesting discussion about the conceptual as well as the operational practicalities of hosting and broadcasting events. Fan engagement is key to the success of any event, and how content is delivered to 1st and 2nd screen devices. Understanding how to take ownership and monetise content was a point of interest for me personally, and I was intrigued to hear about Rotherham FC, who installed their own IP system, which paid for itself in just 9 weeks.
- Best Practice in Live Event Graphics
Networks are increasingly looking to incorporate new tech such as player tracking and virtual insertion into their live production workflow. This was an interesting discussion into how producers can identify new technologies that warrant investment. How does 4K effect operations? This was a highlight for me, exploring viewer expectations based on screen size and the importance of this consideration when creating sophisticated on screen graphics. There are some great things to look forward to, including NFL and the Premier League, sharing tracking and player data live, and then interpreting and embedding this into the onscreen entertainment graphics. Moreover, trackable player data gathering devices, actually on the players, will become more commonplace. Lastly, the viewers and spectators want to see better and better graphics and that is exactly what they will get.
- Virtual Reality in Sports
This was something I was very excited to hear about after attending a recent event staged by the DPP in London. Adam Cox presented some really interesting data, giving a compelling overview of putting the viewer in the heart of the action or crowd. VR in sport raises lots of questions, and announcements have been made about trials being conducted in a number of sports, like basketball and wrestling. In addition, how does the concept of VR with its solitary, siloed effect, be comparable with the appeal and appreciation of watching sport collectively, and the enjoyment that brings? Headsets will improve, become lighter, more comfortable over the coming years. An interesting question was “how do you watch with a headset and pick up your beer?” The cons are its not suitable to all sports, like large real estate games; however, it is suitable for close up sports like boxing and basketball. VR is a value added addition to sport and will reduce churn. It seems obvious, but PPV was tipped as one of the first winners, followed by short form content, and advertising. An interesting data metric: only 41% of a poll said they were aware of VR, and, of that 41%, only 8% had tried it.
- Virtual Graphics, Player Tracking and the Power of Big Data
Certainly a takeaway panel discussion and aligned to some interesting conversations I have been having recently about big (player) data and how this can link into the 1st, 2nd and 3rd screen offering from broadcasters and sport providers. Vincent Noyer from Ericsson made some interesting points and comments, as did Tony Page from deltatre. Utilising player tracking data seems to be a common theme of this event!
- Summer of Sports 2016
With the UEFA Champions League Final and Roland Garrros Tennis fast approaching, followed by the UEFA EURO 2016, Wimbledon, Tour De France, British Open, Summer Olympics and Paralympics, World Rowing, and US Open Tennis, all before September! This was a great round up and a very positive end to an exciting and interesting conference.
SportTech 2016 came to a close with a bit more networking after a long, but informative afternoon of discussions. The cold pint of Guinness here was a welcome treat!
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