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Sportvision: Broadcast and In-Game Viewing Enhancements

April 24, 2011 1 comment

Last week I discussed EA SPORTS Virtual Playbook and the how that technology has changed the way sports broadcasters and can analyze games and provide greater insights to fans. That technology inspired me to look into some of my other favorite ICT advancements that have brought about tremendous changes to the way fans get to enjoy watching games and I found a vast majority of these innovations led me back to the same company, Sportvision.

The Sportvision company logo

Sportvision is the leader in this industry and has won 8 Emmy Awards for its technological achievements and in 2002 was credited by the Sports Business Journal with inventing of half of all the technological advancements in sports television. (source) In fact, in 2010 Sportvision was even voted the 34th most innovative company in the world by Fast Company. Sportvision’s first major breakthrough came with its Virtual Yellow 1st and Ten™ graphics system, the computer generated yellow line that appears on the football field and “allows viewers to see the required distance the offense needs to earn a first down for each play”. (source) The yellow line looks like it is actually on the field and has been so popular amongst fans that is has become a mainstay in television broadcasts of football games

The yellow line as seen during a game

and has even won numerous Emmy’s for technical achievement. While it is easy to recognize what yard line a team has to reach if it is on one of the actual white yard lines on the field (which are marked every ten yards), it is more difficult to know exactly where a team must reach it is anywhere else. The yellow first down marker has taken the uncertainty out of it for fans watching games on TV, and they can simply look at the TV and know the spot that must be reached. The technology used to create the yellow 1st down marker is quite interesting but a bit difficult to explain, so here are two videos that do a great job of explaining how this breakthrough is made possible. 

Building  off of the success of the Virtual Yellow 1st and 10 graphics system, Sportvision has become a leader in this industry. The company has focused on developments for both broadcasting and the viewing pleasure of fans. Sportvision has made numerous advancements in other sports as well including baseball, soccer, tennis,  horse racing and the Olympics. They are responsible for

PITCHf/x and K-Zone technology in action

creating the”PITCHf/x system that illustrates the flight of the ball, and the Emmy-Award winning K-Zone system that makes the strike zone seem tangible”. (source) Sportvision’s website contains an incredible video explaining the technology and showing the PITCHf/x system in action, in addition to links to videos for the K-Zone system and other creations. In fact, if one takes the time to look around the Sportvision’s website you may be surprised by the vast number of technological inventions the company has come up with that is seen every day in sports.

Predictive put technology as seen TV

Making sporting events easier to follow and watch on TV leads to more people watching the games being broadcast, and the boost in ratings obviously leads to more money from advertisers as well as more lucrative television contracts for professional and collegiate sports. The integration of Sportvision’s technologies into sports broadcasts have been so successful that it has spurred the growth of an industry related to in-game viewing enhancements for fans. Other companies have take notice of Sportvision’s success and entered the field such as AimPoint and its advances in the golf industry. AimPoint created the Emmy Award winning predictive put technology, which is utilized by the golf channel and approved PGA. This technology creates “a live graphical insertion of optimal putt overlays into golf broadcasts” and “provides an unparalleled opportunity for the viewer to understand green-reading, putting difficulty, and approach shot strategies” (source). Check out AimPoint’s website for some really interesting videos showing this technology in action.

Sportvision and other companies’ successful ICT innovations for the progression of in-game viewing during sports broadcasts have made watching sports more enjoyable and have made the intricacies involved easier to understand and visualize. As more companies continue to enter the field, I eagerly await to see what new technological creations will come about and how they will affect the way in which we watch sports.

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