MLS’ big night is here: The 2014 All-Star game from Providence Park in Portland, which will see the league’s best, made up of a quasi-US national team core, take on European superpower Bayern Munich.
ESPN2, which will broadcast the All-Star game and has just signed a new deal with MLS and US Soccer to carry the league going forward, will have comprehensive and unprecedented coverage.
ESPN’s studio show, ESPN FC, will broadcast live from the stadium, and there will be three hours of pregame coverage leading up to kickoff, which will take place just before 7:00 PST.
But the biggest carrot in ESPN’s All-Star show? The cameras they have put inside the goalposts, which will be making their broadcast debut tonight.
That’s right: There are now cameras inside the goalposts.
This isn’t the first time ESPN has introduced new technology into their All-Star game broadcasts: Last year in Kansas City, it was the referee wearing a camera so the audience could see what he saw.
This year’s new addition is meant to showcase goalkeepers, giving people the ability to focus on the men between those posts – their positioning, shot-stopping, and organizational skills on fuller display.
Shots off the post could be interesting too – the holes where the cameras are placed are covered with a clear material that is very much in play.
ESPN said that perfecting the placement of those cameras and the clear material was in the end the biggest challenge in getting the cameras into a first game broadcast. It’s fair to say that the camera angles produced will be unique among soccer broadcasts.
The technology, developed by ESPN and tested in a match before the World Cup with the Colorado Rapids Academy and tested further in the friendly in Harrison, New Jersey which saw the New York Red Bulls beat Arsenal, has the potential to be a dramatic, intimate way to view the game and action in the box.
It was a hit with MLS officials who saw the results from the dry runs, and now it’s ready for the big-time tonight in Portland, Oregon.
If it’s a success, we could see these goalpost cameras in big ESPN broadcasts going forward – but because ESPN developed and owns the technology, it’s very unlikely at this time that other soccer broadcasting networks would be able to use the technology.
Of course, ESPN’s portfolio of soccer rights has decreased somewhat dramatically over the last few years.
The self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” however, continues to be among the best networks for soccer in the business. Tonight, they make another technological leap at the MLS All-Star Game.
H/T Sports Video Group.