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World Cup Spurs TV Multiscreen Innovation

May 30, 2014


All eyes will be on Brazil in June when the beautiful game—call it soccer or football—makes its home in the South American pais for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The event is sure to be a showcase for not only multiscreen business models, but also for innovations in on-air broadcast technologies.

While three-quarters (74 percent) of U.S. fans will be watching World Cup matches the old fashioned way, from either a bar, friend's home or even from a work TV—a survey from YuMe shows that World Cup viewing habits will be marked by growing multiscreen use. In fact, almost half (46 percent) of U.S. viewers said that the ability to watch the tournament on multiple devices is important to them.

"Did you know that during the 2010 FIFA World Cup event, consumers spent over 26 million hours viewing content online, resulting in the largest online sporting event in the U.S. to date?" the company said. "Imagine what can happen in four years."

Pay-TV operators and broadcasters globally are gearing up to meet the demand with a raft of multiscreen options. For example, Italian TV group Mediaset said that it will use mobile screens and social TV to provide a new style of coverage that amounts to a strategy shift, executives noted. "We do not watch TV the same way we did four years ago, and we need to use the opportunities the technology is offering," explained Ana Bueno, multi-platform content director.

The YuMe survey confirms her assessment. It found that live streaming will be popular across all devices, with computers acting as distribution points for 33 percent, tablets being used 22 percent, smartphones 11 percent, smart TVs 13 percent. Higher percentages plan on using connected devices just for highlights: 63 percent intend to watch highlights on the computer, 23 percent on smartphones and 25 percent on tablets.

More than half (59 percent) agreed that by being able to watch on multiple devices, they’ll be able to watch more matches. More than 54 percent intend to watch online video of completed matches, and approximately 50 percent of viewers intend to watch online video of previous World Cup matches.

Knowing that the event is a chance to capture multiscreen eyeballs, Argentina's TV Pública is launching an app for iOS, Android (News - Alert) and Windows phones through which it will air half of the World Cup matches live (32 in all).  The app will also give access to the channel's media library with more than 86,000 videos on-demand, live statistics before and after the match, and an interactive social TV platform. And, the country’s DeporTV broadcaster is also about to launch its own free app through which it will offer all 64 World Cup matches.

Satellite operator DirecTV (News - Alert) is planning to use multiscreen to deliver value-added content as well, like secondary camera angles and original shows.

"We will be offering over 1,000 hours of original programming in order to cover the World Cup," said Guillermo Barreto, director for sports programming at DirecTV Latin America. "We have the most extensive coverage, broadcasting all the matches on TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. Nobody will miss a second of what's happening."

DirecTV will provide up to six simultaneous displays including the main image, a tactical camera, views of both team, as well as the playing field for each team. To deliver this coverage, up to 24 cameras will be videotaping throughout each stage of game play.

In addition to the live multiscreen coverage, all the World Cup matches will be available to download on-demand after the event via the DirecTV app, available for Android and iOS by the beginning of June for DirecTV subscribers in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Some are going beyond simple one-way feeds to boost user engagement. Mediaset’s Espana division has announced an agreement with WhatsApp to improve its social TV coverage of the beloved La Roja, the Spanish national team. The 26 million-plus active users of WhatsApp in Spain will be able to receive live information and videos of the World Cup on their smartphones and will also be provided with a number to use to send their own pictures and comments, which will be uploaded to Mediaset's website.

Image via Shutterstock.

WhatsApp will complement the group's presence on Twitter (News - Alert) and Facebook. In addition there will be live streaming, video-on-demand (VOD) and extra content such as pictures, videos and statistics online.

Like DirecTV, Mediaset plans to use its digital distribution provide different views of the action. "The technology is going to be the core. We will broadcast different alternative signals in every match, with two signals from the benches, two for the players and one permanent signal recording the matches' strategies," said Mediaset’s Bueno.

Meanwhile, monetization is a key part of making the most of a multiscreen World Cup. To that end, Civolution's SyncNow automatic content recognition (ACR) and real-time ad platform has been extended to offer TV synced contextual multiscreen advertising during live matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Advertisers can programmatically place digital advertisements simultaneously when key events are happening on TV. At the start or end of a game, during half time or when a team scores a goal, the SyncNow platform will send a signal to programmatic bidding platforms to deliver targeted and contextually relevant ads on viewers' smartphones, laptops or tablets, appearing within seconds of the event.

"At a time when advertising budgets are shifting from TV to digital, and real-time context is getting increasingly important to advertisers, SyncNow Ads offers a solution enabling TV and digital to leverage each other's natural strengths," said Alex Terpstra, CEO at Civolution. "At the same time, live event ad triggers offer a wealth of creative opportunity for advertisers to adjust their brand message to their targeted audience at the right moment in the right context."

It’s worth noting that on-air innovations will revolve around the second screen as well. For instance, Televisa, the Mexican powerhouse, is planning a touchscreen-based football analysis tool called “Realidad Alternativa,” which anchors will use to break down the game for viewers. Some of the unique features of the so-called “touch-table” include the ability to extract a player dynamically from the table with a touch of the finger, and have that player's image appear as a life-sized hologram with his personal statistics listed along with his value to the team.

Televisa Deportes recently gave viewers in Mexico a preview of the technology on-air during a Mexico-Nigeria friendly match on March 5. The touch table allowed the anchors to analyze plays and discuss team strategy and play as it happened, in real time.

"We're always looking for immersive tools and technology that helps our talent tell the story of the game better, and engages fans more closely," the company said. "It allows the talent to emphasize key moments and strategies of a game, which gives the viewer a better understanding of what's happening."

The same could be said of multiscreen and digital capabilities overall, which is an idea that will clearly get a thorough vetting during the matches in Brazil this summer.

"There is no doubt in the massive shift toward multiscreen viewership among consumers, and it is only amplified during a globally-watched sporting event such as the World Cup," said Paul Neto, director of research at YuMe.

 By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Edited by Stefania Viscusi