TSG Travel Note: While Matthew is making like Frodo down in New Zealand, I spent a tidy 15.5 hours driving from San Diego to Breckenridge, CO yesterday. We are now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Here’s hoping that JP Dellacamera doesn’t paraphrase Mugatu from Zoolander during tonight’s telecast as ESPN goes…well…all ESPNy on the MLS Cup Final broadcast.
The Worldwide Leader will be experimenting with optical tracking technology during tonight’s game which will attempt to quantify the game and player performances with speed and distance stats as well as a “heat map” of player locations.
In addition to the tacking technology, the broadcast will feature 19 cameras including two super slo-mo cameras, ESPN Axis which rotates camera angles on replays and an EASports FIFA video game like Offside line.
It should be interesting to see how the new stats and graphics contribute to the understanding of the match. ESPN, however, has their work cut out for them as soccer is a game with few breaks and the last thing you want is for the fancy broadcast toys to intrude on the play and viewers.
Moving to a more American-style broadcast may offend some of the purists, but progress always upsets the hard-core traditionalist. Taking a different perspective, broadcasting innovations are just another attempt to engage fans in the sport, so a fist-bump to ESPN for trying in that regard.
Going forward, it would be great for viewers to have a choice of a stats-and-graphics laden broadcast or a more traditional broadcast by simulcasting on two different channels. And at some point in the future, I’m guessing viewers will have near complete control of graphics through interactive television that allows them to turn on-and-off on a stat-by-stat or graphic-by-graphic basis.
Until that day, however, here’s to hoping that ESPN, soccer and American broadcasts grow together in a way that preserves the rhythm and flow of the game while educating new and old fans alike.