Live sports events, the single most unifying pastime for people all over the world, confronted a major loss this year during the coronavirus outbreak, with sports leagues everywhere cancelling their events following shelter-in-place orders. One can imagine all the die-hard fans sitting at home, nurturing a pent-up demand for live physical sports.
The good news is that technologies in remote production and remote broadcasting mean the sports industry is not doomed. Recently, countries like Korea and India have begun broadcasting games and matches again using remote production and remote announcing practices, while Germany’s Bundesliga announced that it would resume the soccer season in empty stadiums on May 15.
Sports is a global activity. No matter the nationalities or global location of teams and leagues, audiences expect to be able to enjoy them in their own languages. As remote broadcasting enables the sports industry to emerge intact from the pandemic, localization services will become increasingly essential to ensuring its global reach.
In 2019, the NFL used remote production capabilities to produce and deliver a 10-game Conference USA football schedule, showing off just how efficient the technologies were, even faced with covering several different events at once.
While the sports industry has experimented domestically with remote production, the potential in global broadcasting has only come into its own during the pandemic upset. Most notably, just a month ago in May of 2020, Korean football league K League opened its own media center, serving 17 countries.
Sports industry insiders have been saying it for years: remote production is here to stay, even after the pandemic. It simply makes sense; putting a show together this way dramatically cuts production costs; production companies are spared the expense of providing a producer and a director on-site, which usually means large trucks and the mobilization of production equipment; meanwhile, producers and directors today can effectively work from home.
Additionally, remote production centralizes the work to a third-party or designated home studio. A much smaller team of producers can work real-time on the feed of a sports event with innovative technologies. For example, while in previous seasons each broadcaster was based in a different location and had to create their own graphics to broadcast, the K League Media Center standardizes graphics for all locations. Advantages such as these save massive amounts of money — as much as 25-35% of costs, in fact.
It may surprise some that sports industry personnel fully expect remote production to yield higher quality broadcasts than traditional production. This is due in part to technologies that enable better production-to-broadcaster communication. The lag between streaming and the live event is now mere seconds, and shortening all the time.
However, an extensive range of services that are not primarily technological are required to ensure quality remote broadcasting. India, where cricket games and the Indian Premier League are widely revered, makes an excellent example of localization’s importance in remote broadcasting.
“A significant trend in India is making the content more local and regional,” said Dhaval Ponda, global head for media and entertainment services at Tata Communications, a leader in remote broadcasting. “This gets enhanced because of video streaming apps, which are looking to cater to regional audiences.”
Ponda names localization as one of three essential challenges facing remote broadcasting in India. Linguistically, India is astonishingly diverse, with 23 official languages and over 720 dialects across all of its regions, for which reasons broadcasters see localizing cricket games as a non-negotiable service. Once production becomes standardized, the sports industry should likewise be looking for translators and cultural experts to cater the streaming experience to specific markets.
Like many other remote broadcasting companies, Ponda has its eyes set on global broadcasting. And now, with the demand for it growing by the day, they have just the technologies to do so. As sports leagues resume events amid social distancing with the help of remote production technologies, it won’t just be India recognizing the need for localization, but every country with a potential worldwide audience of sports-hungry fans. With a large network of professional linguists and experts in more than 250 languages, CSOFT’s culturally-savvy localization services can help sports broadcasters and leagues reach new audiences in global markets with the speed and efficiency needed to match the pace of modern broadcast production.