The television networks are constantly looking for ways to bring fans closer to the action. Over the years, we’ve seen innovation such as point of view cameras in cars in Formula 1, IndyCar, and NASCAR; lipstick cameras in track and field and in the NFL, there’s the overhead spider cam that has provided great looks from behind the offensive line.
But one camera that has been missing is an on-field camera that can be mounted on a referee or official. We have seen experiments in the NBA and NFL, but results have been mixed. ABC tried a ref cam on Monday Night Football on preseason games, but pictures were blurry and shaky and the network eventually dropped the experiment.
One place where the ref cam is working is Australia’s National Rugby League where Fox Sports is the rightsholder. You may have seen it when NRL games are aired either on Fox Sports 2 or Fox Soccer Plus. The camera is mounted on the referee’s forehead and provides very clear pictures from the field. The images have shown players arguing with officials and very clear replays.
Fox Sports in Australia has had positive feedback on ref cam and it’s seeing some interest from Fox Sports here in the States and in particularly, the National Football League.
According to Fox Sports Australia director of programming Gary Burns:
“The NFL have come to us. They are interested in the technology and want to see more.
“They feel it could be a good fit for them and bring the NFL action closer to the fans.”
And Burns says NRL referees love the footage and use it as for coaching and teaching their officials.
So does that mean it’s coming here in time for the 2014 season? There’s no word as of yet. But as networks look to increase their access and find ways to differentiate themselves from the competition, a ref cam would certainly stand out.
Seeing a ref cam on Ed Hochuli would be worth the price of admission alone.