by Jason Snell
A look into the sports broadcasts of 2028
Richard Deitsch writing for The Athletic (subscription required):
You have decided to watch tonight’s game from Guerrero’s perspective, which has been dubbed Vladdy Cam by ESPN+, Sportsnet, Facebook and the YES Network, all of whom own the rights to show the game…. Viewers at home can experience what it is like from Guerrero Jr.’s perspective when Severino dials up his dazzling slider, or the angle Guerrero Jr. takes at third base on a blast from Yankees star shortstop Gleyber Torres. You can also hear what Guerrero Jr. has to say during the game, especially if you speak Spanish, which is why baseball broadcasts have been on a 30-second delay for a couple of years now.
Deitsch is right in suggesting that changes in camera technology (and wireless technology) will probably lead to the biggest changes in how sports are depicted on television. Beyond body-mounted cameras, I have to think that miniaturized cameras on the field and above the field—yep, drone cameras—will bring viewers even closer to the game.
I also expect far more augmented overlays than we see even today. Baseball broadcasts are starting to adopt live 3-D strike-zone overlays, but that’s just the start; across all sports, advanced technology will allow the games to be enhanced through data overlays and visualization approaches that will make going to the live game almost quaint. (Even now, it’s weird to go to a football game and not see the yellow first-down stripe, which is added to every broadcast.)
It’s also funny to think how television portrayals of sports can change the sports themselves. Ubiquitous display of 3-D strike zones on television have made even the most casual baseball fan aware of precisely where every pitch is thrown, and when the umpires make a bad call. The idea that a computer would call balls and strikes in a game once seemed utterly outlandish, but today the commissioner said the technology is basically accurate enough (another subscription-only Athletic story) and it’s just a matter of a negotiation with the umpires.
It does make me wonder how sports leagues will make people want to keep going out to games, though. But so far, they’ve found ways to make the in-home and in-stadium experiences work for fans—even though they seem to be diverging fast from one another.