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Tech in Sport: Football, replays and 360° views leading as fans long for teletext

Instant replays, slow motion and the ability to rewind live TV are fans’ favourite innovations in sports broadcast, according to new research. Meanwhile, teletext and waiting for Match of the Day highlights on Saturdays make more fans nostalgic than any other aspect of sports broadcast.

Commissioned by BT Sport as it launches Innovate 21, a new competition seeking the next big tech innovation in sports broadcast, research of 2,000 sport fans across the UK examined fans views on tech innovations across the world of sport – both on and off the pitch, from developments in how sport is broadcast, to innovations on the field of play. It found 76% of fans believe tech has a positive impact on sports TV while also revealing football is the sport most fans (49%) believe is best utilising tech to enhance sports viewing.

Turning to fans’ views on recent tech innovations around sports broadcast, 360° camera views (26%) and spider/drone cameras (26%) are the most popular recent innovations, followed by live streaming sports on the go via mobile (22%) and the introduction of 4K and HDR picture quality (21%).

In terms of fans’ take on the best overall innovations on the pitch from athletes, authorities and teams, goal-line technology (32%), Hawk-Eye (27%) and photo finish imagery (26%) were deemed the best enhancements by fans. When asked for their least favourite innovations, football’s video assistant referees (VAR) system was voted for by more fans (31%) than any other tech.

Overall, the study found that 74% of fans believe technology has made sport more accessible to a larger audience, with people regularly watching sport on a PC or laptop (53%) or soaking up the action on their smart phones (41%). More than six in 10 also believe tech innovation has made watching sport a more sociable experience.

BT Sport has launched Innovate 21 to find exciting new ideas, technology and services spanning the entire sports broadcast chain from entrepreneurs, creatives and start-ups. The competition will provide one lucky winner with the opportunity to work with BT to develop their idea for future use. BT Sport has a rich history of providing entrepreneurs with opportunities to be at the heart of innovation. Since winning the 2018 BT Infinity Lab competition, Sceenic has worked with BT Sport to support last year’s launch of Watch Together on the BT Sport App. More details on how to enter are available at

Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport, said: “There have been many impressive tech developments in the worlds of sport and broadcasting, and this research has highlighted the importance of tech for sports viewers. Sport and sports broadcasting do not stand still though, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront of innovation. This is why we’ve launched Innovate 21 to create the opportunity for someone to make a game changing mark on the world of sport broadcasting.”


  1. Spider/drone cameras (26%)
  2. 360° viewer-controlled cameras (26%)
  3. Live streaming sport to mobiles (22%)
  4. 4K / HDR picture quality (21%)
  5. Post-match video analysis (20%)


  1. Instant replays (33%)
  2. Rewinding live TV (32%)
  3. Slow motion replays (31%)
  4. On-screen time/score graphics (16%)
  5. Spider/drone cameras /// 4K pictures /// 360° cameras /// (14%)


  1. Goal-line technology (32%)
  2. Hawk-Eye (27%)
  3. Photo finish technology (26%)
  4. Prosthetic devices for disabled athletes (24%)
  5. Under soil heating (23%)


  1. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) (31%)
  2. eSports – competitive video gaming (16%)
  3. Fantasy football apps (14%)
  4. Cavity backs – used in golf to help make misfired shots more forgiving (10%)
  5. Voice activated assistants (10%)

(*proportion of those surveyed who selected the innovation as best recent sports broadcast innovation)

(**proportion of those surveyed who selected the innovation as best/worst)

BT has been at the heart of sports broadcasting innovation over recent years:

  • Last October, BT Sport and EE teamed up to launched Matchday Experience on the BT Sport App, offering fans the most immersive sports viewing experience anywhere in the UK, powered by EE’s number one 5G network. Features include Watch Together – the only service in the UK allowing fans to watch, see and chat with three other friends, alongside any BT Sport broadcast, thanks to a split-screen interface.
  • BT Sport was the first broadcaster to show live content in 4K and UHD in 2015 and the first to adopt Dolby Atmos in 2016. BT Sport has also embraced social media, being the first to show the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals on YouTube and showing content such as BT Sport Score live for free on Twitter and Facebook.
  • In 2019, BT Sport collaborated with BT’s Media & Broadcast arm to broadcast the world’s first live 8K test broadcast, into the IBC exhibition in Amsterdam.
  • In 2018 BT Sport and EE successfully carried out the world’s first live broadcast over 5G using remote production, delivering a two-way transmission from Wembley Stadium to London’s ExCeL exhibition centre.

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