For years, sports networks have used blimps or spider cams to get the beautiful overhead shots for replays. However, they can only go so far. Blimps have to be at least 500 to 1,000 above a stadium. Spider cams are suspended by cables over the field and have gotten the closest overhead shots over soccer and football action.

But that could change as Fox Sports is experimenting with the use of drones. It began this weekend as one was used in the AMA Supercross Series telecast on Fox Sports 2.

Since drones have been released for civilian use, we’ve seen some spectacular shots of familiar sites on YouTube. For instance, here’s one drone video looking over Brown University in Providence, RI.

However, with drones, there needs to be approval and according to USA Today, Fox had to go through miles of red tape to get three drones inside Lucas Oil Stadium which hosted the motorcross event.

In addition, ESPN utilized drones at the Winter X Games, but that was an outdoor event.

For motorcross where bikes can travel at high speeds, drones were able to keep up:

“In a stadium, bikes travel upwards of 40 mph, and the drones easily kept pace. When the riders simulated a start, a drone stared them down from 20 yards out, then beat them to the first turn, swooping in behind to catch the view of flying dirt.”

Fox is now looking to utilize drones at the U.S. Open in June where it can use them to fly over a hole to provide looks that helicopters cannot.

And with the spider cam, there’s the potential for problems when the cable snaps as occurred during a 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup when the camera fell and the cable fell into the crowd injuring ten people. And another spider cam fell during the 2011 Insight Bowl forcing a delay as technicians had to get it off the field.

Fox is hoping to see the drones used in live play down the road and as networks pay for more access in sports, it’s not far-fetched to think it could happen within the next three years.

[USA Today]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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