New features in 2020/21 to improve the TV product, involving Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. More stadiums equipped with the most advanced technology. Innovation continues to stand out in LaLiga.
LaLiga has an ambitious goal on the horizon: to be the best-TV-produced sports competition in the world. And for this, they have been putting the maximum means at its disposal for years to bring the viewer all those improvements in the spectacularity, aesthetics and informative quality of the broadcasts of its matches around the world. The desire to improve its TV product has always been there for LaLiga but, since it first started selling its rights in a unified package at the start of 2015, broadcasting innovation has been at the forefront of the agenda. Since then, the revenue made from the sales of TV rights has been reinvested into improving the quality of the product itself. Now, whether you’re in Mexico or Indonesia, you know that you’re watching a LaLiga match. The universal brand is clear.
As part of these improvements, LaLiga stadiums have been modified, with changes to the pitch, stands and advertising. Aerial cameras are a permanent fixture in every stadium, just as you’d see during a major international tournament, like the World Cup or European Championship. LaLiga is the only league in the world with the REPLAY 360º system.
However, this growth doesn’t stop here. LaLiga is always looking for ways to evolve its product, introducing new features for its viewers to enjoy. This season, in 2020/21, there are notable additions. Here are the five key ones:
New graphics, involving Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality
A few years ago, LaLiga developed the Mediacoach system, which allowed its clubs to monitor the performance data of their players during matches. Whether it was physical statistics or tactical positioning, LaLiga clubs had access to it all for free. Now, for the new season, this data is available to use for television broadcast.
Thanks to tracking cameras that are installed inside the stadiums, this performance data can be inserted into television coverage in real time and, because of Artificial Intelligence, this process can be done virtually automatically. This data gives viewers a better understanding of the game they are watching thanks to Augmented Reality, further adding to the emotion and passion that comes with the action.
Improvements in virtual crowd graphics and sound
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced matches to go behind closed doors for health reasons. As a result, in a pioneering act in the football world, LaLiga introduced a virtual crowd, with virtual sound included, in its broadcasting transmissions to simulate the presence of fans at matches.
The absence of fans in stadiums is to the detriment of the product on television: viewers are distracted by the fact that the stands are empty and by the echoes of the players’ voices. Virtual crowds were brought in to retain the sense of atmosphere within stadiums during matches.
LaLiga’s virtual crowds made a very positive impact across the world when it made its debut in June and, since then, alterations have been made to improve the experience of watching a match played behind closed doors. The viewing figures of LaLiga’s product during this time are proof that the addition has been a successful one.
Furthermore, with no fans in stadiums, LaLiga has been able to bring its television viewers angles that have never been seen before. The positions of up to five cameras, of the total of 23 that now cover a LaLiga match, have changed. There are now cameras in place in the empty seats themselves, offering unique views of the action for those watching from home.
In Spain, there are very strict regulations for the usage of drones but, this autumn, Mediapro-Overon have been granted permission by the airspace authorities to use drones during broadcasting transmissions of LaLiga matches.
This new technology allows for closer, more attractive shots of the stadiums, which you can’t capture in a helicopter. The first time this was used was at Mestalla during Valencia CF’s first match of the 2020/21 season, but there is work ongoing for regular usage of the feature at all LaLiga matches.
More stadiums with aerial cameras: 12
No league in the world offers more aerial cameras, also known as ‘spider cams’, than LaLiga Santander on a regular basis. The number of stadiums that are capable of using this feature has increased to 12 for the 2020/21 season. They are: Real Madrid, Getafe CF, FC Barcelona, Granada CF, Valencia CF, Real Sociedad, Athletic Club, SD Eibar, Atlético de Madrid, SD Huesca, Sevilla FC and Real Betis. And in a near future, it’s expected to add Levante UD and Cádiz CF as well.
By the end of the 2020/21 season, the plan is to install more aerial cameras at Osasuna CA’s El Sadar stadium, which is currently undergoing redevelopment, and Elche CF’s Estadio Martínez Valero. Totally, 16. The objective is ultimately to make this feature available at all 20 stadiums in LaLiga Santander.
More stadiums with 360° replays: 8
Another aspect which sets LaLiga apart from the rest of the world is the extent and detail of its television replays. With an increased total of eight for the 2020/21 season, LaLiga Santander has more stadiums capable of showing 360° replays than any other league on the planet. They are: Real Madrid, Valencia CF, FC Barcelona, Athletic Club, Atlético de Madrid, Real Betis, Sevilla FC and Real Sociedad.
This technology doesn’t just offer the viewer the opportunity to see a replay from every angle, but also the chance to enter the pitch themselves. With the ‘Be The Player’ replay, viewers can re-watch moments from the perspective of the players involved. Technology that allows viewers to watch a match live, as if they were a player on the pitch, is also being developed.
LaLiga will continue to overcome obstacles using innovation, so there’s plenty more where this came from.