Group viewing service Sceenic Watch Together will be trialled on BT Sport after winning BT Infinity Lab competition
Sceenic Watch Together, which enables people to watch online content together, sharing the viewing experience, has won this year’s BT Infinity Lab competition.
The service increases audience engagement for broadcasters by enabling users to enjoy a group viewing experience.
Sceenic Watch Together was announced as the winner following a Dragon’s Den style pitching session at BT Sports’ studios in the Olympic Park, Stratford.
BT’s Infinity Lab initiative is designed to uncover innovative technology that can be utilised by BT Sport to further enhance its service.
Entries were encouraged to focus on “disrupting traditional broadcast approaches, including capturing the in-venue experience; encouraging interaction between sports fans; uses of data; ways of making live sports more accessible for impaired viewers; and new technologies such as virtual reality (VR),” said BT.
“Sceenic reflects what BT Sport is all about – which is bringing our audiences into our content and driving engagement”
This is the second year the company has run the event, and “between 60 and 70 entries” were in the running for the prize.
These were whittled down to eight shortlisted companies, which were invited to pitch to the panel, which included Jamie Hindhaugh, COO of BT Sport and BT Sport presenter Craig Doyle.
BT Sport has committed to trailing the winning technology for “potential future use by the company”. The winner also receives six months’ membership at TechHub, with full access to its workspace and events.
Last year’s winner, SeenIt, is now used routinely in BT Sport’s Premier League Tonight show. SeenIt enables fans to send in questions for BT Sport pundits to answer and makes it possible for supporters to create video summaries of matches they’ve been watching and send their films to BT Sport for host Jake Humphrey to show.
The ambition is for this year’s winning technology to be similarly incorporated into BT Sport’s programming. BT Sport’s Hindhaugh said: “Sceenic reflects what BT Sport is all about – which is bringing our audiences into our content, driving engagement and being a broadcaster that speaks with our fans.”
Paul Bojarski, CEO at Sceenic, added: “The idea came from me trying to watch sport over distance with my dad. We’re about togetherness, and BT has so much live content it will be amazing to test our technology with its users.”
The seven other shortlisted technologies were:
• Spectral-Edge, based in Rutland, uses technology to subtly modify colours on TV screens, tablets or smartphones for those who are colour blind, while at the same time ensuring non-colour-blind viewers do not find their viewing experience compromised.
• Alchemy Data, based in Buckinghamshire, analyses fans’ online habits to predict their future online behaviour around different sporting events.
• Salsa Sound, based in Salford, aims to improve the audio experience of live sports on TV. The technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance existing pitch-side microphone feeds to provide a highly immersive sound experience.
• The Future Group, based in Oslo, Norway, works on inserting CGI characters into live broadcast to enhance the audience experience, including digital double (augmented reality) characters that can recreate a situation from a live sports broadcast in the living room, using a mobile device, to exemplify the analysis.
• Spalk, based in New Zealand, provides a platform for alternative sports action commentary from fans, YouTubers or athletes.
• Brainstorm, based in Madrid, provides real-time 3D graphics and virtual set solutions for broadcasts, capturing real presenters in both virtual and real environments into live video.
• SmarterTV, based in Israel, offers clickable and interactive video technology. Its service also enables the unattended production of live events.
BT Sport first launched in 2013 and has built up a reputation for tech innovation since then, being the first broadcaster to show live content in 4K UHD and the first to adopt Dolby Atmos audio. It also broadcast the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals on YouTube and puts out content such as BT Sport Score on Twitter and Facebook.
PICTURED: Sceenic’s CEO Paul Bojarski (right) shaking hands with BT Sport’s COO Jamie Hindhaugh before accepting his prize
There will be more detailed coverage of the BT Infinity Lab finals and the eight shortlisted technologies in the next issues of Broadcast and Broadcast TECH.
Broadcast TECH is running a free-to-attend Sports Tech Innovations event in London on 21 March. To register your interest, and to find out more, visit http://broadcasttech.co.uk/