Technology

Home Match

With fans itching to fill stadiums once again, a new app service is aiming to make the wait more bearable

WORDS Steve McCaskill

Football is a social experience. The sights, sounds and shared emotions of a full stadium, and the verbal ping-pong between friends down the pub, have all been greatly missed over the past year. And while video calls have been used to replace everything from business meetings to family quiz nights, technology has struggled to replicate that gameday feeling. But as the players continue to push themselves, so various broadcasters are buckling down to innovate.

In the UK, BT Sport is rising to the challenge with the new Matchday Experience on its mobile app, a service combining augmented reality (AR), advanced statistics and social-viewing features. Fans can see every angle of the stadium with live 360-degree video, overlay real-time graphics on the pitch and even take a virtual tour of the dressing rooms.

However, the most popular feature could prove to be Watch Together, which allows up to four people to enjoy the same match at the same time without having to worry about lag. The action plays out on the left of the screen, with each participant shown reacting on the right. And because the feeds are perfectly synched, there is no risk of someone celebrating early. In any case, users can adjust the volume of their friends and commentators to be spared any excessive gloating.

Watch Together has been in the works for some time but social distancing and lockdown restrictions have made its launch feel particularly well timed. “If you told me this time last year that we’d show a whole season without fans, I’d have thought you were mad,” says BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh. “Fans want to come together and we’re making it feel like you’re at the game if you can’t be there.

“We’ve been working on Watch Together for two-and-a-half years as part of our technical roadmap and it was a long time in development, because we needed to get the synchronisation just right. We’re comfortable that it can deliver one of the things that people are missing most about sport.”

Football is a social experience. The sights, sounds and shared emotions of a full stadium, and the verbal ping-pong between friends down the pub, have all been greatly missed over the past year. And while video calls have been used to replace everything from business meetings to family quiz nights, technology has struggled to replicate that gameday feeling. But as the players continue to push themselves, so various broadcasters are buckling down to innovate.

In the UK, BT Sport is rising to the challenge with the new Matchday Experience on its mobile app, a service combining augmented reality (AR), advanced statistics and social-viewing features. Fans can see every angle of the stadium with live 360-degree video, overlay real-time graphics on the pitch and even take a virtual tour of the dressing rooms.

However, the most popular feature could prove to be Watch Together, which allows up to four people to enjoy the same match at the same time without having to worry about lag. The action plays out on the left of the screen, with each participant shown reacting on the right. And because the feeds are perfectly synched, there is no risk of someone celebrating early. In any case, users can adjust the volume of their friends and commentators to be spared any excessive gloating.

Watch Together has been in the works for some time but social distancing and lockdown restrictions have made its launch feel particularly well timed. “If you told me this time last year that we’d show a whole season without fans, I’d have thought you were mad,” says BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh. “Fans want to come together and we’re making it feel like you’re at the game if you can’t be there.

“We’ve been working on Watch Together for two-and-a-half years as part of our technical roadmap and it was a long time in development, because we needed to get the synchronisation just right. We’re comfortable that it can deliver one of the things that people are missing most about sport.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

One of the recurring pitfalls of technology is developing features nobody actually wants or needs – gimmicks, basically. BT Sport insists that its Matchday Experience grew out of a recognition of the importance of the second-screen experience and the changing usage habits of viewers, especially younger ones.

There is a recognition too that the EA Sports FIFA video-game series has altered the way that fans think about and interact with football. Hence the app’s Manager Mode, an AR-enabled feature that promises to offer tactical insight by displaying player names and stats such as player speeds, plus a mini-map tracking player positions in real time.

Whereas linear broadcasts can only provide a limited viewpoint, the combination of the mini-map and 360-degree video means viewers can have a complete idea of what is happening across the pitch. Later this season, a shot-velocity tracker is also set to be introduced. In the meantime, Matchday Experience is available to any BT Sport subscriber who has access to the mobile app. Watch Together is accessible for every Champions League and Europa League match, with Manager Mode available for select home games of English and Scottish clubs in both competitions. The additional features will follow later.

Inevitably the service will be of greater use during lockdown but Hindhaugh believes there will be demand post-pandemic: not everyone is able to attend a match in person; people have friends who live far away; and the rollout of high-speed, high-capacity 5G mobile networks will transform stadium connectivity, allowing the features to be used during matches or at half-time.

“I think people will be knocking down the door to go back to live matches when they can, but having the option to watch the game together is great,” he says. “I want BT Sport to be viewed as an augmenter of experiences, whether this is at home or in the stadium, and bring people to the heart of sport.”

Football is a social experience. The sights, sounds and shared emotions of a full stadium, and the verbal ping-pong between friends down the pub, have all been greatly missed over the past year. And while video calls have been used to replace everything from business meetings to family quiz nights, technology has struggled to replicate that gameday feeling. But as the players continue to push themselves, so various broadcasters are buckling down to innovate.

In the UK, BT Sport is rising to the challenge with the new Matchday Experience on its mobile app, a service combining augmented reality (AR), advanced statistics and social-viewing features. Fans can see every angle of the stadium with live 360-degree video, overlay real-time graphics on the pitch and even take a virtual tour of the dressing rooms.

However, the most popular feature could prove to be Watch Together, which allows up to four people to enjoy the same match at the same time without having to worry about lag. The action plays out on the left of the screen, with each participant shown reacting on the right. And because the feeds are perfectly synched, there is no risk of someone celebrating early. In any case, users can adjust the volume of their friends and commentators to be spared any excessive gloating.

Watch Together has been in the works for some time but social distancing and lockdown restrictions have made its launch feel particularly well timed. “If you told me this time last year that we’d show a whole season without fans, I’d have thought you were mad,” says BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh. “Fans want to come together and we’re making it feel like you’re at the game if you can’t be there.

“We’ve been working on Watch Together for two-and-a-half years as part of our technical roadmap and it was a long time in development, because we needed to get the synchronisation just right. We’re comfortable that it can deliver one of the things that people are missing most about sport.”

Home Match
Technology

Home Match

With fans itching to fill stadiums once again, a new app service is aiming to make the wait more bearable

WORDS Steve McCaskill

Football is a social experience. The sights, sounds and shared emotions of a full stadium, and the verbal ping-pong between friends down the pub, have all been greatly missed over the past year. And while video calls have been used to replace everything from business meetings to family quiz nights, technology has struggled to replicate that gameday feeling. But as the players continue to push themselves, so various broadcasters are buckling down to innovate.

In the UK, BT Sport is rising to the challenge with the new Matchday Experience on its mobile app, a service combining augmented reality (AR), advanced statistics and social-viewing features. Fans can see every angle of the stadium with live 360-degree video, overlay real-time graphics on the pitch and even take a virtual tour of the dressing rooms.

However, the most popular feature could prove to be Watch Together, which allows up to four people to enjoy the same match at the same time without having to worry about lag. The action plays out on the left of the screen, with each participant shown reacting on the right. And because the feeds are perfectly synched, there is no risk of someone celebrating early. In any case, users can adjust the volume of their friends and commentators to be spared any excessive gloating.

Watch Together has been in the works for some time but social distancing and lockdown restrictions have made its launch feel particularly well timed. “If you told me this time last year that we’d show a whole season without fans, I’d have thought you were mad,” says BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh. “Fans want to come together and we’re making it feel like you’re at the game if you can’t be there.

“We’ve been working on Watch Together for two-and-a-half years as part of our technical roadmap and it was a long time in development, because we needed to get the synchronisation just right. We’re comfortable that it can deliver one of the things that people are missing most about sport.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Football is a social experience. The sights, sounds and shared emotions of a full stadium, and the verbal ping-pong between friends down the pub, have all been greatly missed over the past year. And while video calls have been used to replace everything from business meetings to family quiz nights, technology has struggled to replicate that gameday feeling. But as the players continue to push themselves, so various broadcasters are buckling down to innovate.

In the UK, BT Sport is rising to the challenge with the new Matchday Experience on its mobile app, a service combining augmented reality (AR), advanced statistics and social-viewing features. Fans can see every angle of the stadium with live 360-degree video, overlay real-time graphics on the pitch and even take a virtual tour of the dressing rooms.

However, the most popular feature could prove to be Watch Together, which allows up to four people to enjoy the same match at the same time without having to worry about lag. The action plays out on the left of the screen, with each participant shown reacting on the right. And because the feeds are perfectly synched, there is no risk of someone celebrating early. In any case, users can adjust the volume of their friends and commentators to be spared any excessive gloating.

Watch Together has been in the works for some time but social distancing and lockdown restrictions have made its launch feel particularly well timed. “If you told me this time last year that we’d show a whole season without fans, I’d have thought you were mad,” says BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh. “Fans want to come together and we’re making it feel like you’re at the game if you can’t be there.

“We’ve been working on Watch Together for two-and-a-half years as part of our technical roadmap and it was a long time in development, because we needed to get the synchronisation just right. We’re comfortable that it can deliver one of the things that people are missing most about sport.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

One of the recurring pitfalls of technology is developing features nobody actually wants or needs – gimmicks, basically. BT Sport insists that its Matchday Experience grew out of a recognition of the importance of the second-screen experience and the changing usage habits of viewers, especially younger ones.

There is a recognition too that the EA Sports FIFA video-game series has altered the way that fans think about and interact with football. Hence the app’s Manager Mode, an AR-enabled feature that promises to offer tactical insight by displaying player names and stats such as player speeds, plus a mini-map tracking player positions in real time.

Whereas linear broadcasts can only provide a limited viewpoint, the combination of the mini-map and 360-degree video means viewers can have a complete idea of what is happening across the pitch. Later this season, a shot-velocity tracker is also set to be introduced. In the meantime, Matchday Experience is available to any BT Sport subscriber who has access to the mobile app. Watch Together is accessible for every Champions League and Europa League match, with Manager Mode available for select home games of English and Scottish clubs in both competitions. The additional features will follow later.

Inevitably the service will be of greater use during lockdown but Hindhaugh believes there will be demand post-pandemic: not everyone is able to attend a match in person; people have friends who live far away; and the rollout of high-speed, high-capacity 5G mobile networks will transform stadium connectivity, allowing the features to be used during matches or at half-time.

“I think people will be knocking down the door to go back to live matches when they can, but having the option to watch the game together is great,” he says. “I want BT Sport to be viewed as an augmenter of experiences, whether this is at home or in the stadium, and bring people to the heart of sport.”

Football is a social experience. The sights, sounds and shared emotions of a full stadium, and the verbal ping-pong between friends down the pub, have all been greatly missed over the past year. And while video calls have been used to replace everything from business meetings to family quiz nights, technology has struggled to replicate that gameday feeling. But as the players continue to push themselves, so various broadcasters are buckling down to innovate.

In the UK, BT Sport is rising to the challenge with the new Matchday Experience on its mobile app, a service combining augmented reality (AR), advanced statistics and social-viewing features. Fans can see every angle of the stadium with live 360-degree video, overlay real-time graphics on the pitch and even take a virtual tour of the dressing rooms.

However, the most popular feature could prove to be Watch Together, which allows up to four people to enjoy the same match at the same time without having to worry about lag. The action plays out on the left of the screen, with each participant shown reacting on the right. And because the feeds are perfectly synched, there is no risk of someone celebrating early. In any case, users can adjust the volume of their friends and commentators to be spared any excessive gloating.

Watch Together has been in the works for some time but social distancing and lockdown restrictions have made its launch feel particularly well timed. “If you told me this time last year that we’d show a whole season without fans, I’d have thought you were mad,” says BT Sport COO Jamie Hindhaugh. “Fans want to come together and we’re making it feel like you’re at the game if you can’t be there.

“We’ve been working on Watch Together for two-and-a-half years as part of our technical roadmap and it was a long time in development, because we needed to get the synchronisation just right. We’re comfortable that it can deliver one of the things that people are missing most about sport.”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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