The Bundesliga is one of the most innovative sports leagues in the world and the leading innovator in football. This is grounded in its strategy of monitoring and adopting the latest trends in technology to gain a profound understanding of ever-changing consumer behaviour. The Bundesliga was hence the first football league to adapt to one of the latest major trends in media usage: Consumption of vertical videos on mobile devices.
As the Bundesliga always strives to offer the best possible media product, it has optimised its whole production workflow for the new format. A special 9:16 feed was produced with additional technology independent of the base signal during a test transmission in December 2019 of the game between VfL Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen.
While the spectators in front of the screens did not notice any change, five additional cameras were used in the stadium for the 9:16 production. These professional broadcast cameras were tilted using special tripods to achieve top quality results and in a separate control room the monitors were also rotated by 90 degrees. With this technical set-up, the Bundesliga’s high-quality standard was also ensured in 9:16 – even offering Ultra HD.
This is a prime example of the Bundesliga’s efforts to produce results of the highest quality even when it comes to something completely new to the football ecosystem. Above all it demonstrates how the DFL is closely listening to Bundesliga fans to understand what they want today and in future when it comes to media consumption.
The test was implemented by DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga – German Football League) subsidiaries DFL Digital Sports and Sportcast. Reflecting the DFL’s full value chain ownership strategy, it produces the base signal itself and controls all media content creation. This not only allows the DFL to build on synergies between its subsidiary companies but also build technological capabilities and maintain premium quality in all areas. The first trial created valuable insight and learnings, especially for the camera operators dealing with the new perspectives. Filming in 9:16 requires rethinking the entire cinematography involved in football broadcasts. The ball must be in the centre of the screen and the camera must follow more quickly as the horizontal screen size is narrow.
“We are very satisfied with the test,” says Andreas Heyden, executive vice-president, digital innovations of the DFL Group. “As always, we develop innovations by adopting the fan’s perspective. We see that vertical videos in social media on mobile devices are better received than ones in horizontal orientation. The successful test in Wolfsburg provides us with a good basis for further considerations as to how we can do even better justice to this usage behaviour in the future.” The vertical footage recorded during the first test will initially be internally evaluated by the DFL and its subsidiaries. The aim is to determine how 9:16 broadcasts can create added value for Bundesliga fans around the world, allowing them to experience ‘Football As It’s Meant to Be’ on mobile devices, everywhere they go and in the best possible quality.