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Premier League details broadcast ‘enhancements’ for season resumption

Tottenham Hotspur host a friendly practice match against Norwich City on June 12 (by Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

The Premier League has detailed a number of “broadcast enhancements” that will be used when the top division of English club football resumes its 2019-20 season tomorrow (Wednesday).

As part of the plans, the Premier League has outlined that live video feeds featuring 16 supporters from each club will be made available to broadcasters and to clubs for use on big screens in stadia during matches. The likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Burnley have already detailed how they plan to utilise fan video content during games.

For goal celebrations, the Premier League has advised that players should maintain distance from one another and “where feasible, broadcasters will identify a celebration camera which players can head to after scoring”.

Clubs have also given the green light to extra footage from inside the tunnel area without sound and audio of the captains’ coin toss with the referee. Meanwhile, the seats nearest the pitch will have covers designed by each club “to improve the environment both visually and acoustically”.

Speaking to SportBusiness, Carl Woodman, managing director of the UK arm of the Sportfive agency, recently said that the Premier League would need to strike the right balance in ensuring the right “look and feel” at matches, particularly with regards to the use of extra advertising inventory.

Earlier this month, the Premier League’s main domestic rights-holders, pay-television duo Sky and BT Sport, detailed measures they would introduce to enhance coverage of games held behind closed doors.

Sky Sports said it will include crowd noise and catch-up options as part of a range of new innovations when its Premier League coverage returns. Working with EA Sports Fifa, Sky Sports has created a range of bespoke and team-specific crowd noises and chants to enhance the atmosphere of closed doors games. Viewers can select the Sky channel to watch with the added sound or with stadium noise.

Other new features include the ‘Sky Sports Recap’ service, allowing viewers to catch up on all the key highlights during live matches in a short burst. Each game will have a live timeline enabling viewers to quickly catch up on the highlights at any point during the match – even if they have not watched it from the beginning.

The ‘Sky Sports Fanzone’ will be a new feature on the Sky Sports website and app allowing viewers to watch select matches with friends in a video room and interact while the action unfolds. Sky said this will give them the chance to chat about the match and influence the crowd noise they hear on screen.

BT Sport viewers will have the option to watch games with or without a pre-recorded dynamic crowd noise feature, using the red button. BT will also be launching ‘Watch Together’, allowing customers using the BT Sport app to watch, see and chat with friends in a split screen, while a match is being played.

Sky and BT Sport recently announced that they would resume charging subscribers this month, as live sport begins to return to their schedules. The Premier League represents the key rights property for both Sky and BT.

Sky, which holds the bulk of the Premier League’s live rights in the 2019-22 cycle, will broadcast 64 of the remaining 92 matches from the 2019-20 season. It will make 25 matches in its quota available to free-to-air digital terrestrial viewers through its PickTV channel. These matches are those that Sky had previously not been scheduled to broadcast.

BT will show 20 matches, up from the eight it had originally been due to broadcast. The matches will only be available to BT Sport customers. Public-service broadcaster the BBC and online retail operator Amazon will also offer four matches each on a free-to-air basis.

The domestic broadcast efforts are in addition to NBC Sports’ plans to offer “atmospheric enhanced audio” to US viewers of Premier League games.