The reality of bringing wearable cameras into live sports action is getting closer. There have been experiments in the NFL, college football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, but nothing on a permanent basis. A refcam is a regular part of the action down under in Australia’s National Rugby League. As the technology improves, networks and leagues here in the United States are seriously looking into bringing refcams and other point of view angles into their content on a regular basis.
Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand writes that “network and league executives predict that more players and referees will be wearing cameras” within the next few years.
In 2016, Big Ten Network utilized a refcam during a Wisconsin-Minnesota contest. As you can see from the video below, the camera was quite clear and provided some amazing perspectives.
Fox experimented with a refcam during the Philadelphia Eagles-Cleveland Browns preseason game back in August. It’s not the first time Fox has utilized wearable cameras, as the network used a catcher cam in its MLB coverage back in the 1990s, but the images provided weren’t too clear and the concept was eventually scrapped.
But as technology is improving in ways where the cameras can be embedded into a referee’s cap or, as Ourand writes, a boxing referee’s bow tie or a player’s jersey, leagues and networks are looking to include them in their coverage to provide unique angles for viewers.
The whole idea is to attract younger viewers and networks are looking to companies like ActionStreamer, which has been developing small point of view cameras to mirror what video games provide. It’s also hoping to develop an app that will stream live video from a wearable cam as a compliment to the game action.
While the point of view angles have been fairly limited in the major pro leagues, organizations like the Arena Football League have been using them for years.
They’ve also been used frequently in the CFL, including weekly this season.
Thanks to referee Dave Foxcroft & the @CFL for letting us experiment with a new camera angle at the game on Friday. Enjoy our "Ref Cam”! pic.twitter.com/s7UymSNOgW
— Hamilton Tiger-Cats (@Ticats) June 19, 2017
And the NHL and MLS have tried this as well:
The hope is to bring this perspective to MLB, NBA, and the NFL sooner than later.