Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blips: The Sporting Interface

Source: What can broadcast sports learn from videogames?
Author: Jason Johnson
Site: Kill Screen

The work happening over at Sportsvisionis fascinating stuff. Sportsvision is the company that invented many of the modern TV interface overlays for live sports coverage, including the yellow first down line in football and the constant mini-scoreboard in the corner of the screen in just about everything. In a recent article for Kill Screen, Jason Johnson points out how the relationship between sports TV broadcasting and live video game competitions could learn some things from one another.

However, history has shown that making sports more video game-y doesn't always go over so well. Remember the glow puck, which debuted in a brief stint in the 90s? It wasn't around for a long time because so many people found it distracting and made their complaints known. The glow puck was a Sportsvision invention too, but one that predated its use in games. On the surface, the glow puck is a genius idea, since it's often quite difficult to follow the tiny, laser-speed dot that is the puck in TV broadcasts. At the Twofivesix conference, former Sportsvision CEO Bill Squadron admitted that the glow puck technology wasn't refined enough to be as unobtrusive as viewers would have liked, but said that if a new glow puck were to be introduced that he feels the tech has advanced enough that it could be done right.

I'm all for more interfaces in sports TV since the technology is there and can be used in a way that enhances viewers' understanding of the action on screen. Plus, now that professional sports occupy so many of their own channels, why not give viewers the choice of two versions of the game? One with interface and one without. Or better still, take a cue from video games and include an options screen to turn on and off specific interface options at will. There are moves that could be made that would drive a whole new generation of people to be interested in sportscasting, the same way video game livestreams have stables of professional "casters" who are proficient in calling specific games. If new video game consoles want gamers to be more interested in using their machines to watch sports, they should consider giving them more control over the broadcasts.

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