Golfers will tee off today, April 7, 2016 at Augusta National Golf Club, and covering their rounds will be new video broadcasting technologies making a first appearance in live coverage of a golf event: 4K TV and Virtual Reality broadcasting throughout the tournament. The Masters has a history of broadcasting firsts with both color TV and HD used at Augusta before any other golf event, and remains at the top of the list of places to showcase new technology. Let’s take a look at how these technologies will be used during the TV coverage.
4K from Amen Corner
CBS Sports will cover the Amens Corner holes (11, 12, and 13) with live 4K. This will be available for viewing by DirecTV subscribers, and will serve as the inaugural live event on DirecTV’s new 4K Channel, which launches this month. CBS commented that 4K will have an immediate impact on how they cover golf. Coordinating/Lead Producer Lance Barrow said “In SD, when a player would hit a shot, you would have the camera behind the player, and you would have to cut to the ball in flight. With HD, you were able to stay with the player a little longer and watch the flight of the ball. With 4K, you’re going to be able to stay even longer to watch the flight of the ball on the shot. It will be clearer, and everything about it will be a better-looking shot. 4K will make you feel like you are sitting right there on the golf course watching the action.” To learn more about the 4K coverage, read this useful article.
Virtual Reality at Holes 6 and 16
From the opening practice rounds through the final round on Sunday, NextVR is producing continuous live virtual reality coverage on holes 6 and 16. NextVR cameras are positioned at the tee boxes and greens of both holes. Viewing is via the NextVR app for GearVR headsets. This will be the first time NextVR technology will be used publicly for a professional golf event.
Live Streaming with Featured Groups
Besides the new technologies, there will be multiple live-streaming options available. CBSSports.com will offer four free live-streaming channels: Featured Groups (the first time a feed will follow selected groups each day throughout their entire round), Amen Corner, Holes 15 & 16, and Masters on the Range live from the Tournament Practice Area. The idea is to give golf fans watching online some options of where they want to watch the action, just as attendees may move about the course during play.
What’s not new, but will be deployed again are mobile cameras mounted in ground robots and drones. These give the producers flexibility to change camera positioning on-the-fly to capture key shots.
It will be exciting to see the results of these leading edge broadcasts, and I'm looking forward to how these technologies will enhance viewing of other sports events in the future. It’s all good news for sports fans, as the “just like being there” experience gets closer to reality.
For CDNs, this trend toward multiple broadcast channels of sports events is welcome indeed. There’s a lot of video processing involved in delivering this content to audience expectations. I can’t wait to check out the results. I hope they are as successful as the March Madness Final 4 earlier this week, which featured three broadcast channels for each game: one for VR, and one each for the teams playing that used the school’s usual play-by-play announcers.
To all golfers and video enthusiasts – enjoy the Masters!