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Bundesliga showcase for virtual hybrid technology

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Imagine you could sell the advertising on your perimeter LED board to different companies in different territories. Imagine you could do this multiple times over.

Well stop imagining and start preparing!

Combining the technological strengths of ADI, the UK’s leading LED display and digiboard perimeter provider and Supponor’s digital replacement technology, clubs now have the power to tailor brand messages for individual broadcast markets.

After two years of development, the ground breaking Virtual Hybrid solution gives clubs the ability to deliver conventional LED display content to a domestic television audience and fans within a stadium, but, with the added advantage of virtually replacing the messages for different broadcast markets.

Showcasing this unique technology, executives gathered in Frankfurt on 6th May for the climax of a major tour in which ADI and Supponor took the technology on the road, allowing clubs throughout the Bundesliga to get ‘hands on’ with the system and understand how it works.

In forest surrounds, the 51,000 capacity Commerzbank-Arena, home of Eintracht Frankfurt, was fitted out with the latest Virtual Hybrid digiboard which has been used on a non-commercial basis at Watford Football Club during the 2016/17 season. 

In the club’s museum – which explores Eintracht Frankfurt’s journey past to present - sponsors, governing bodies and club executives gathered to witness the future of sports broadcasting with presentations from Bundesliga commercial operators, Lagardere Sports, Supponor and ADI’s Geraint Williams ahead of the match between Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg.

As the match kicked-off, attention switched to the TV displays where a live feed broadcast the game being played out in the stadium. From this feed, four screens displayed the virtually integrated perimeter boards and the various dynamic effects that can be used.   

The successful deployment of Supponor and ADI’s solution at Commerzbank-Arena followed an earlier smaller scale integration of a Virtual Hybrid digiBOARD system at VfL Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena in March 2017.

However, virtual replacement technology is nothing new, but what makes the collaboration between ADI and Supponor unique is the ability to make it work using LED perimeter advertising. Previous incarnations has seen it work only on static perimeters boards and making it work with LED, popular at clubs in England and Germany, proved a challenge.  

The purpose of the event was to demonstrate not only the quality of the product on screen but also the complete end-to-end workflow, from integration with the live match feed production to the generation of multiple customised feeds featuring different perimeter brand messaging in each.

Supponor’s Chief Operating Officer, Charlie Marshall, commented: "The showcase event at Eintracht Frankfurt’s Commerzbank-Arena was a hugely valuable demonstration of Supponor’s virtual replacement technology and its ability to integrate with LED.

“We were able to successfully demonstrate the end to end quality of the solution, both in terms of authenticity on screen, and the seamless technical workflow. We are at the dawn of a new era in virtual replacement advertising and we’re excited to be at the heart of it as we further implement the solution in key markets."

With the Premier League’s broadcast deal with NBC in the US worth around £400m and the lucrative 3-year broadcasting rights deal signed with Chinese broadcaster PPTV worth over £500m from 2019, virtual replacement technology will give clubs the opportunity to capitalise on the huge audiences these markets provide.

The popularity of the Premier League around the world has allowed clubs to raise the value of their perimeter advertising, but is often confined to one message over numerous geographic boundaries. Virtual replacement technology allows clubs to target specific audiences based on geography opening up a number of potential new revenue streams and providing audiences with relevant brand messages. 

Geraint Williams, CEO of ADI, added: “We’re delighted by the response from clubs and federations who have seen the technology in action and incredibly excited by some of the progressive thinking they’ve shared about the potential for commercialising the platform. The solution we’ve developed with Supponor is a complete end to end offering, which combines the best of everything we do, from LED manufacturing, augmented reality, connected stadium networks, content management, and broadcast engineering.”

Virtual replacement technology uses advanced virtual overlay imagery to offer an optimum augmented reality brand activation solution for any football match in any stadium in any production environment.

Supponor’s advanced augmented reality expertise allows them to overlay in-venue, TV-visible, physical advertising signage of any kind with authentically rendered, virtual branded content – in real time – to create high-impact targeted virtual brand messaging.

Working with multi-coloured backgrounds or foregrounds, the technology delivers a seamless solution regardless of changing light or weather conditions using a fixed camera position to mask fine objects – such as goal nets, limbs of players or officials, balls or smoke.

Designing and deploying a digital overlay to deliver virtual hybrid replacement allows for unlimited feeds while also enabling brand and media owners alike to benefit from real-time brand exposure statistics.  

With the technology at an advanced stage and set to further develop, ADI and Supponor will head to the UK and other European markets at the end of May and into June to showcase the technology on the next leg of the tour.

Clubs and venues who have not yet confirmed a date for the roadshow to visit their stadium are encouraged.

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