Plans have been outlined to enhance the viewing experience in football’s Spanish LaLiga and English Premier League, which are both set to return to action this month.
LaLiga, which organises the top two divisions of Spanish football, has revealed that matches will “look and sound different”, with the virtualisation of stands and fan audio among the initiatives planned for viewers watching on television.
New camera positions will also provide viewers with fresh images. LaLiga’s official production partner Mediapro will help implement the new initiatives.
The virtualised stand feature will be offered to LaLiga’s international broadcasters and will provide to-scale images of seated fans wearing the colours of the home club. LaLiga has teamed up with Norwegian company VIZRT to develop this experience.
When the match is stopped, the image of fans can be transformed into a canvas that matches the colour of the home team.
Virtual sound will also be featured through a collaboration with EA Sports’ FIFA game as part of a project called ‘Sounds of the Stands’. The audio library of EA, which was recorded in real stadia, has been used and digitally adapted so that it can be applied in real time during matches. The sound can be adapted to the flow of the game as certain situations occur, such as a goal or a foul.
Some cameras will also shift their location to positions where they would previously have affected the sightline of fans in the stands. For example, the aerial camera will modify its flight path to offer new shots, while the bench camera will be moved to the opposite stand and robotic cameras will be used in the tunnel for health safety reasons.
LaLiga will return on Thursday with the derby match between Sevilla and Real Betis, and president Javier Tebas has not ruled out the possibility of allowing fans to attend fixtures before the end of the season.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has previously said it would be unfair for some clubs to have fans in their stadia and others not, after Segunda División club Las Palmas revealed that it was working on plans to welcome supporters to matches.
Irene Lozano, president of Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD), quickly moved to clarify that fans would not be able to attend matches following Las Palmas’ announcement but Tebas has said he would be in favour of welcoming supporters back as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Fans should be back as soon as they are allowed to be back,” said Tebas, who said that it would not be a problem if only some clubs are able to welcome fans.
Meanwhile, Premier League broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport will give viewers the option of watching matches with pre-recorded crowd noise similar to LaLiga.
The Premier League will resume on June 17, with Sky to broadcast 64 matches and BT Sport to show 20.
Sky has partnered with EA Sports FIFA to create a range of bespoke and team-specific crowd noises and chants, with viewers to be given the option to watch with or without the added sound. BT Sport, which also broadcasts the German Bundesliga, will give fans the same option.