The NFL has a history of using emerging technologies to offer fans a better experience, especially when it comes to video. They’ve introduced augmented reality with a yellow line marking the first down, added instant replay to the rulebook, and given fans the quarterback’s POV with Outdoor Sportsman Group's SkyCam.
The league had a great run a decade ago, but with the growth of the millennial fan a fresh video strategy is needed to meet heightened expectations. They expect more options and more control of the content. Luckily, there is a confluence of new technologies that will redefine storytelling for the NFL. This next wave will give a true 360°-view of the game from the air, the ground, and the stands.
From the air
With the Goodyear Blimp rising above the stadium, aerial shots are a tradition in any NFL show. This coverage will now get much closer to the action with drone technology. Products like AirDog and Lily are using GPS sensors to enable drones to follow an athlete’s every move with no human navigation needed. These companies are currently focused on action sports, like snowboarding, where an athlete wears a tracking device on their wrist and the drone follows at a specific height throughout their run down the mountain. As this technology evolves, we will see multiple drones on the football field capturing the action. From the quarterback, to the wide receivers, to the secondary, this technology will give commentators more angles to dissect leading to immersive video highlights of any matchup.
From the ground
We have already seen football practice videos with cameras attached to helmets. Now, companies like Firstv1ision are perfecting a camera integrated into player jerseys. Imagine watching the game from the point-of-view of a running back who needs to instantly choose between two running lanes; or the view of a referee seeing a penalty at the line of scrimmage. By giving the point-of-view from the chest, fans will get a sense of just how quickly decisions are made on the field. From there, this technology will become a stepping-stone for the next evolution of video content: virtual reality.
Virtual reality has become a heated marketplace for hardware creators. HTC, Sony, Microsoft, Samsung and, of course, Facebook are all getting in on the trend. With the rise of virtual reality headsets, there will be an immediate need for content developed with this particular experience in mind. GoPro has already created aspherical rig to capture full 360° video. When stitched together, this allows viewers to point the camera at any point of the action. Pair this footage with a gaming vest and surround sound and fans will get a feeling of what it’s like to be a running back pin-balling their way past the offensive line.
From the stands
Lastly, we can’t forget the fans. With the emergence of streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, fans in the stadium will give those at home a front row seat to every aspect of the game. Footage of people pouring through the turnstiles, chants in the fanatics section, and player arguments on the sidelines all add depth to the story on the field. With these emerging streaming apps it will soon be time for the “12th man” to shine in the video content mix.
It’s been a decade, but football is finally ready to make its next big play in the content field. With the right technology roadmap, viewers will soon have the type of content control they have only experienced in video games. Services like Red Zone allow fans to follow any team in real-time, but this new video revolution will allow them to see any player, from any point-of-view, on demand.
This trend doesn’t just stop with football. New technology will change the way audiences interact with any brand. For agencies, these tools will empower storytelling efforts. Marketers will need to find more unique ways to engage the growing GoPro generation with a personalized point-of-view. We have seen it in technology and toy advertising with unboxing videos, as well as food and home improvement advertising with how-to videos. For the NFL, it will help bring fans one step closer to the feeling of putting on the helmet. For brands, it will add the excitement, authenticity, and personalization needed to breakthrough and engage consumers.