Sky Sports Germany broadcast a 9:16 vertical DFL-Super Cup match, multi-screened on Tik Tok and its own social platform in a split screen format that delivered a distinctive fan experience.

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Sky Sports Germany has broadcast its first vertical 9:16 football match, multi-screened on Tik Tok. Fans tuned in to Sky’s social media platform on Saturday 12 August to watch the DFL-Super Cup match, with a multi-split screen format that delivered a distinctive fan experience. DFL-Super Cup, run by the Deutsche Fußball Liga, is a one-off football match featuring the winners of the Bundesliga championship and the DFB-Pokal.

Described as a Sky Sports ‘Watch Party’, viewers were able to watch multiple sources and graphics simultaneously including exclusive camera cuts, performance history and match analytics. Recent research, from Vizrt and other sources, indicates a growing trend among Gen Z for short form content. Sky Sports Germany is adapting to capture their full attention, with 15-minute live segments of game-related content aired prior to, during and after the full match itself airs.

Sky Sports Germany is using Vizrt’s Viz Vectar Plus for the live 9:16 production, and Viz Engine 5 running its usual render pipeline for the core broadcast studio production to drive the LED walls and AR graphics.

Multiple Sources, Screens, Outputs

In this application, Viz Vectar Plus was chosen for its ability to create content remotely from large numbers of audio and video NDI sources. Its specs include 8-M/E video mixing, 15 frame buffers and 68 keyable layers with 16 outputs. It also comes with program re-entry functionality that outputs multiple versions of the same program with differences in graphics presentations, aspect ratios and resolutions.

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Through the use of dynamic macros, Sky Sports operators can switch complex productions, using NDI Genlock to assure consistent timing. Alpha channels can be sent through MIX outs as well, for sophisticated post effects. Built-in web streaming capabilities support different connection types and resolutions, and up to three channels can be encoded at once, in formats from HD up to UHD. Viz Vectar Plus supports 44 audio channels and an NDI plug-in that interconnects with audio mixing and processing applications that can be entirely virtualised through Dante/AES 67 formats.

In-Stadium AR Graphics

Sky Sports Germany has also been working on Viz Arena for in-stadium AR graphics and Viz Libero for sports analysis. For speed of deployment, Viz Arena does not require specialised hardware, and uses Vizrt’s Viz Arc, a customizable AR graphics control application, to centralise the control of associated processes and workflows from one interface. Also, because Viz Arena is image-based instead of relying on tracking devices, camera calibration is relatively quick.

The keyers developed for Viz Arena use Viz AI to intelligently handle ambient conditions, using dedicated algorithms that are trained for each sport. This approach results in better visual quality for editorial graphics and virtual advertising.

As mentioned above, Sky Sports Germany’s new viewing experience was developed in response to a growing trend within sports, driven by younger generations like millennials and Gen Z who are opting out of traditional broadcast formats. Instead of watching matches through from beginning to end, the way they really happen, viewers prefer to watch short pieces of diverse types of sports content, produced specifically for this purpose, via their mobile phones while they move from location to location.

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Evolving Demands

Vizrt and Sky Sports Germany are adjusting to meet the evolving demands of the younger generation, which currently means delivering more video content oriented vertically and for social media. Two-thirds (68%) of Gen Z and almost half (47%) of millennials frequently watch sports on social media and over 70% find vertical viewing more personal and immersive than horizontal.

“Sport viewer trends are rapidly changing. Vertical football matches have been broadcast before, but screening on TikTok while delivering a multi-screen viewing experience is a first. We’ve seen a growing demand for shorter form content via digital platforms, and with Vizrt Vectar, we can deliver a special experience that combines multiple aspects of the game within a short 15-minute segment,” said Alessandro Reitano, Senior Vice President Sports Production at Sky Sports Germany.