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Fox Sports Levels Up for the Super Bowl

Fox Sports Levels Up for the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl, the biggest televised sports event in the United States, returns this weekend, and in our latest analysis, we look at the fusion of technology and innovation that Fox Sports is bringing to its broadcast package.

Broadcast technology and viewer interaction in real time is something that is continually evolving, as we have previously covered here. From 1080 HD to 4K, to the latest trends in augmented reality, the proverbial distance between the couch and being at the big game has been rapidly shrinking. While there was always sure to be a bevy of cameras ready to capture all the action at the highest possible resolution, Fox has been eager to up the ante — with artificial intelligence.

A helping hand from AI

With 94 cameras set to cover the game, including two SkyCams, a drone and a two-point Fly Cam, the directors of the game’s broadcast will have a seemingly limitless batch of options at their disposal. But the skill necessary to integrate all of these is another thing altogether, and for that to work, a delicate balance must be struck.  For Mike Davies, Fox’s technology lead on the broadcast, “the idea is to sort of seamlessly weave these incremental technological achievements into the wider broadcast.”

Using artificial intelligence to create a combination of live and near-live footage, all delivered in high resolution, will allow Fox to present the action in the most immersive way possible for what is expected to be a record viewing audience. With many cameras filming the game unmanned or operating remotely, those running without a human being operating them will use AI to slow down or speed up game footage. This will aid the broadcast team in analyzing replays, as well as showing the action in detail — something that is key in a game of fine margins.

For the viewer, the difference between the two should scarcely be noticeable, as Davies mentions. However, the hope on Fox’s part is that this technology can appeal to the more casual fans of American football who are likely to be tuning in to the broadcast. By providing as technologically advanced a product as possible, not only will casual fans be impressed by the action on the field, but by the broadcast itself. But it’s not only in terms of technology that Fox is looking to up the ante…

Credit: Christopher Alvarenga

One thing that will be expanded upon as well, and is especially notable in relation to the recent inroads being made by the NFL in Mexico, is increased coverage of the event on Fox Deportes. Fox Deportes is Fox’s Spanish-language network, and while it has always had coverage of the game itself, this year its offerings mirror far more closely those of the main network, with more than 25 hours of coverage throughout the week. This is firm evidence of the growing importance of Spanish speakers in the US media market, something we also saw recently with T-Mobile signing on to become a sponsor of Liga MX broadcasts.

Thus, with heavy investment in both in-game technology and expanding its market reach, Fox has shown that the hype around the Super Bowl is more than just that — it is deservedly the centerpiece of the American sports landscape.

Header: Grant Thomas