GOING PRO

GoPro just changed what live sports are going to look like

Obsession
Business of Sport
Obsession
Business of Sport

It’s not easy to keep up with ice hockey. The game moves so quickly that broadcasters used to highlight the puck on screen like a videogame. GoPro is looking to change this, by placing its tiny cameras on players to broadcast in-game action in real time.

GoPro’s partnership with the NHL, announced Jan. 23, could be the start of the next big thing in live sports broadcasting. Previous advances in live sports have been about immersing viewers more thoroughly in the event, from cameras mounted on zip wires first used in the 1980s, to 3D broadcasting. But GoPro’s announcement promises another level of immersion—the player’s actual perspective. As New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist puts it in GoPro’s promo video: “I think it will be very interesting for a viewer to get a better understanding of what I see and how I track pucks.”

GoPro also wants to be known as a media company. It publishes videos of extreme sports and stunning vistas on “channels” on its website. The move into professional sports will almost certainly bring a new level of credibility to its media company aspirations. GoPro will be posting NHL videos on its channels, but a spokesperson for the NHL confirmed to Quartz that the league retains the rights to any footage shot in-game on a GoPro.

Getting up close with athletes could be a great addition for other sports. In the NFL, body-mounted cameras would make it easier for viewers to tell if players were really in control of supposed fumbled balls, or perhaps just how inflated the ball in the quarterback’s hands is. Mounting GoPros would presumably only work, however, for sports where heavy padding is required—mounting something that weighs about the same as an iPhone 5 might be a little distracting in other situations.

GoPro is also getting into the consumer drone business. While the company hasn’t yet released much information on what its drones will look like, one could imagine them taking over the Skycam’s job of providing 360-degree arial footage in the future as long as they don’t fly too high. Indeed, ESPN will be trying out drones at the upcoming Winter X-Games.

The first in-game GoPro footage will be shot during the 2015 NHL All-Star Game weekend, Jan. 23-35. Sadly, there’s no word yet on how GoPros will be used for in-game fights.

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