British broadcaster BT Sport were confirmed as the host broadcaster of the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophies in London as part of a new deal agreed with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) back in March, with an agreement in place to act as host broadcaster for the upcoming men's Hockey World League Semi-Final in 2017 and the Women's Hockey World Cup in 2018.
The prestigious Hockey Champions Trophy tournaments, held at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London in June, saw the best men’s and women’s national hockey teams in the world go head to head before the Rio Olympics. There, BT Sport broadcasted 18 men’s Hero Hockey Champions Trophy matches from Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre between 10-17 June and 18 women’s Hockey Champions Trophy matches between 18-26 June.
BT Sport embarked on the most emphatic revolution to the way Hockey is produced and broadcast which resulted in record breaking programming, with the global coverage totalling more than 3,700 hours for both events. 211 million people tuned in from over 130 countries around the world thanks to the determined approach from FIH Media Partner Star Sports who are responsible for broadcast distribution. In addition to this, the FIH YouTube channel provided coverage to fans in territories where no broadcast deals were in place.
This was therefore the biggest worldwide TV distribution of a hockey event ever. This was not the only historic landmark in terms of hockey broadcasting however. The 2016 Hockey Champions Trophies were also the first hockey events to be broadcast in 4K (ultra high definition), while huge progress was also made in terms of programming style, pioneered by BT Sport.
Each day of competition saw BT Sport produce one single programme. This gave viewers the opportunity to watch all of the action from the very first match of the day until the very last match - which meant that broadcasters do not have to switch to other sports or programmes in between matches. This provided fans with non-stop hockey coverage, with all of the match action supplemented by in-depth analyses from a fantastic BT Sport talent team and features on athletes, coaches and the sport in general.
Here's an overview of some of the key technological advancements which took place during the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophies:
4k Ultra HD
New technology was introduced by BT Sport at these events, the most significant being the introduction of 4K ultra high definition viewing for fans. The stunning picture quality of this new technology provides four times the detail of standard high definition channels. This makes viewers experience real - it is the next step in high definition TV and provides a truly cinematic viewing experience.
Hawk Eye SMART Replay
The company behind the video replay technology seen at Wimbledon and the US Open (tennis) and in cricket, supplemented the live TV production in London with the Hawk Eye SMART Replay system.
This Synchronised Multi-Angle Replay Technology (SMART) is an exciting new video replay and distribution technology that puts control of every broadcast camera angle into the hands of those who need it the most.
SMART Replay records every broadcast angle in real time, with no limit to the amount of inputs, and makes this content available immediately either on-site or remotely to help various areas across sport. As a result, this was not only be a great addition to the TV broadcast, it was also of huge benefit to video umpires, as well as player welfare and coaching staff.
As a result of all this new technology and programming style, sports fans were given more content and analysis in addition to being brought closer to the live action.
Speaking about the agreement back in March, Kelly Fairweather, FIH CEO, said: “BT Sport’s innovative approach to broadcasting is set to revolutionise the way sports fans watch hockey. Their ambition to grow the sport by providing world class production is very much in line with the Hockey Revolution – our ten-year strategy aimed at making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation. We look forward to working together with the common goal of engaging with and inspiring millions more sports fans around the world as a direct result of an improved viewing experience.”
Looking at the success of the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophies TV production, FIH are delighted that BT Sport have exceeded every expectation in terms of the quality of their hockey coverage and their unwavering support to innovate and further enhance the way Hockey is broadcast.
For more information about BT Sport, visit their website by clicking here.
To see some of the action from the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophies in London, visit the FIH YouTube Channel.