Following the restart of the Bundesliga in Germany in May and the expected return of the English Premier league on 15th June, many sports leagues around the world are hoping to follow suit and restart seasons that were put on hold due to Covid-19.
Any sport which is deemed safe enough to make a return is likely to be played behind closed doors and among the many challenges for broadcasters is how they can capture the excitement of live sports for audiences when a game is possibly being played in an empty venue. Crowds play an important role in contributing to the atmosphere of live sports either as background or when capturing spectator reactions.
This loss of sights and sounds will almost certainly have an impact on the experience of someone watching from home on a screen.
Verizon Media believes broadcasters should consider how they can meet this challenge head-on and find ways to bring some of the shared emotion back to the viewing experience that would otherwise be lost due to empty venues.
This is where OTT is uniquely positioned because the underlying technologies naturally allow for a more interactive experience. We could see OTT providers allow for some form of sentiment capture from viewers and then feed that back into the broader experience, similar to how popular mobile live streaming apps communicate viewership and popularity back to viewers in the shared experience.
Alternatively, they could provide viewers the option to allow capturing of video from their device cameras to use for fan reaction shots. While the absence of in-venue crowds will undoubtedly change the live sports experience, there’s an opportunity for broadcasters to demonstrate their creativity by finding new ways to keep sports fans fully immersed in the action.