Marc Johnson has what he calls the “challenging but enjoyable” role of managing the constant changes and improvements that affect delivery and operations of live content for Sky.
He is also a recently confirmed TV Connect (28 – 30 April 2015 ExCel, London) keynote, where he will be presenting a case study on Sky’s ground-breaking F1 coverage. Here he offers an exclusive foretaste to IP&TV News…
IP&TV News: Hi Marc. Can you give us a taste of the kind of innovation Sky is employing for its F1 coverage?
Marc Johnson: The Sky Sports F1 HD channel delivers an immersive experience and unrivalled enhanced coverage to our customers. For example Sky is the only broadcaster to cover the entire paddock area with wireless technology which allows the presenters free range to wander anywhere while broadcasting live. There’s the very popular #Ask Crofty segment where fans get to interact with David Croft after the race via Twitter. This often appears as a worldwide trending hashtag.
Plus there are multiple streams of additional content. Much of this is delivered concurrent with the action on track such as on board cameras, the driver tracker and pit lane camera.
Specifically, what’s so special about Sky’s companion app, “Race Control”?
Sky Race Control offers the Sky Sports viewer the opportunity to access this exciting extra content while watching the main race on the red button, online and via the Sky Sports for iPad app.
In the past the viewer would watch the main race coverage and would have to wait for a few lucky seconds of an on-board camera to see what their favourite driver was seeing for example. With Race Control fans have access to a huge amount of extra content immediately at their fingertips, such as a selection of live video streams, edited highlights and stacks of live data. They can continue to watch the race on their main TV while accessing the extra content via the red button or on their second screen such as the iPad. F1 is the perfect event for this kind of second screen experience.
As an event, what are the specific challenges and opportunities F1 presents to broadcasters?
As with any live outside broadcast there can be unpredictable events, especially around the environment such as endless rain or searing heat. The crew and the equipment work very hard under all sorts of challenging circumstances every day. As for the opportunities, F1 is a content-rich sport and has brought huge innovation over the years. With the new wave of mobile technologies and faster data speeds in the home and on the go, Sky’s customers are very well served to enjoy these enhancements. For example this year Sky will bring back up to all nine on board cameras for each race – even more than last season - offering the viewer even more choice.
More broadly, how do you anticipate sports coverage to develop in the next five years?
There will be lots of opportunity for innovation around sports coverage as technology constantly provides new opportunities. It was great to see the use of drone cameras in live production at January’s X-games in Aspen which provided some great aerial shots of the action. In fact this year’s NAB will feature a new Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion as these become more popular. Player tracking technology will no doubt improve and increase offering further opportunities to provide extra content. UHD may eventually become mainstream offering incredible opportunities to bring the consumer an even richer experience in the right hands. One thing for sure is the customer will be the winner as they will have even more choice, more interactivity and more accessibility to their favourite sports, anytime they want.
Why drives you to attend this year’s TV Connect (no pun intended)?
The connected space is very fast-moving and is rapidly changing the way people consume content. Innovations from just a couple of years back have now become the norm. What I like about TV Connect is the inspiration it provides from many angles. There’s a great selection of speakers and the conferences will be very interesting too.