Spanish soccer raises match stats game


Barcelona (AFP) – Spanish football’s La Liga has ratched up the technology it uses to cover matches to meet seemingly insatiable fan demand for statistics and replays of players performances.

All La Liga stadiums have since 2010 been equipped with six cameras that track everything that happens on the pitch and which creates stats such as player speed, available within seconds.

The data collected through the system, dubbed Mediacoach, is then used by every club’s coaching staff as well as to raise the quality of broadcast and online content.

Last year the league installed Intel’s True View multiview cameras, which allow for TV replays to be viewed from any position or angle at Barcelona and Real Madrid’s stadiums.

The technology can even offer events on the pitch from the view of a star player like Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona’s Leo Messi.

“It’s like a dream come true for a TV director of a match,” said Roger Goiricelaya, La Liga’s head of content and programming at first division side Espanyol’s RCDE stadium in Barcelona.

The system — which uses 2D videos taken from 38 cameras that are processed through powerful servers — was set up at Atletico Madrid and Sevilla’s stadiums.

La Liga claims to be the first football league to use the system.

“Think about what football fans need. They need to discuss what happened on the pitch,” said Emili Planas, the operations manager of the production company which owns the rights to broadcast La Liga matches. 

“The fan that has more knowledge has a better chance of being right when they debate a match. This technology is perfect for analysing specific moments of a game,” he added at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The stadiums of two more first division teams — Athletic Bilbao and Valencia  — will have the Intel True View system put in place next season.

– ‘Nutritious or delicious’ –

Roughly 2.5 billion people around the world followed La Liga matches last season.

The Spanish league hopes it can create content with the use of new technologies that will keep fans engaged between weekend matches, said La Liga digital strategy director Alfredo Bermejo.

“Content has to be what we call either nutritious or delicious,” he said at the Mobile World Congress. 

“Nutritious is something that gives you some statistics, or some kind of data that provides knowledge. Delicious is content that entertains you.”

La Liga and Mediapro have been experimenting with virtual reality (VR) to offer 3D highlights and replays through the use of Samsung Gear glasses.

The glasses also offer Mediacoach statistics in augmented reality.

During a media demonstration at Espanyol’s stadium on Tuesday of the first features which have been developed journalists could see stats on a player’s recent performance superimposed on a view of the pitch with the glasses.

– Fans abroad –

La Liga teams also hope the technology will help them to better engage with their large and growing fan base that lives outside of Spain.

“Right now we have more than 310 million fans on social media. We believe that less than one percent of them come here to see a game,” said Marcos Picallo, FC Barcelona innovation manager.

“How do I make the fan in China be more a part of Barca. That’s the real challenge. I think we are getting there,” he added.

“Not only in China, which is one of the best markets for us, but in every corner of the world.”

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