SportTech Europe: Top producers discuss the future of sports broadcast

First published on SVG Europe

A panel of experts from the front bench of OB vehicles took to the stage at SVG Europe’s SportTech conference at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium to discuss hot topics like the future of remote production and 4K. Moderator Barry Johnstone, CTV Outside Broadcasts, Managing Director was joined by Jim Storey, European Tour Productions, Executive Producer; John Watts, sports TV director who will be working on the World Cup this summer; and Paul King, Sky Sports, Head of Documentaries and Programme Development.

They began by tackling one of the hottest product areas in sports — super-slow motion camera systems. A big NAB talking point is the move by camera manufacturers like Grass Valley, Sony, and Panasonic to offer high-speed recording so that super-slow motion recording can, possibly, be available at every camera position. Storey says that such a feature would be welcome for RF cameras on a golf course as golf viewers want to see professional swings in slow-motion.

“We have used the Inertia Unlimited xMo for the past four or five years and it is brilliant as we can show the replay within seconds,” he said. “So for radio cameras the more replays from those the better.” However, he added, shots from cameras towers most likely would not need to have slow-motion replay.

Watts added that for an event like the World Cup, where there are already eight super slo-mo and two ultra-motion cameras, adding the function to all 37 cameras may be overkill. “One of the hardest parts is putting meaningful replays up without missing live action,” he said. “For boxing and other sports it would be brilliant.”

King said the other problem is overuse of slow-motion replay if it is available from every position. “When all cameras have it then the impact of having cameras that can do it in the first place is lost,” he said. “And overuse of them might also have an impact on the viewer.”

Added Storey: “When the ball is in play the last thing you want is a replay where the viewer can hear the crowd screaming. So you need sports that have a natural pause with gaps for replay.”

The panelists also discussed the promising area of ‘remote production’ whereby production personnel can produce and direct an event from hundreds of miles away, reducing the number of staff on site as well as costs. “I can remember 10 years ago talking with an excited accountant about how this might work and the potential savings,” said King. “But the fact that you are there and can collaborate and discuss the production before you are on air is important. You’re working as a team and, yes, there is an upside for smaller sports that can be covered more cost effectively but I would be loathe to see it on major events.”

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