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BT: UK leads the world in sports production

Jamie Hindhaugh, COO of BT Sport, has suggested that the UK is way ahead of the rest of the world with its ambition in live sports production, in particular, enabling the telco better to engage with its viewers and demonstrate to its rights-holder partners the value it is delivering.

Delivering a keynote address at the IHS Markit 2017 London Media and Technology Conference, Hindhaugh outlined the benefits of the telco developing its broadcast operations from scratch in 2012 prior to its launch in 2013. “We were the first DPP-compliant broadcaster,” he noted, declaring that more recently, BT was “way ahead of the curve” in its 4K coverage, with some 70 live events in the first year.

As host broadcaster for the UEFA Champions League Final in Cardiff on June 3rd, BT was able to introduce a number of initiatives in conjunction with partners across the televisual and technology sectors, with the game available for the first time in 4K UHD on YouTube and 4K UHD with Dolby Atmos sound on BT TV. A special screening in London using High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology with Dolby Atmos sound was described by Hindhaugh as offering the world’s “best-ever picture and best-ever sound” for such an event. “It demonstrates to our rights partners what we can achieve,” he suggested.

In addition, BT Sport gave away free Virtual Reality (VR) Google Cardboard headsets to football fans ahead of the game, with the final available through a number of 360°streams via YouTube and also in a new BT Sport Virtual Reality App which allowed viewers to choose between a 360° produced programme with commentary and graphics, or select their own camera viewpoint.

“The reaction [to the VR initiative] has been phenomenal,” Hindhaugh reported, stressing that such initiatives were not designed as a replacement for 4K. “It’s about getting audiences to engage in a different way.”

Hindhaugh said that BT wanted to make televised sport affordable and easy to access, and, praising the work of fellow broadcasters such as Sky, the BBC and ITV, declared: “We’re so ahead of the rest of the world with ambition.”

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