Broadcasters face an unprecedented challenge covering sport in 2020. Fanview MD Jim Irving says they could learn from the world of e-sports


The world of sport came to a grinding halt in March, as Covid-19 lockdowns were put in place around the world. Two months later, it is tentatively returning.

Germany’s Bundesliga has reopened behind closed doors, with one team installing cardboard cut-outs of fans in its stadium. The International Cricket Council (ICC) laid out plans for its return, including banning the use of saliva to ‘shine’ cricket balls. And the UK government has produced guidelines for how athletes can return to training, although they won’t be heading to the Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

But if spectator sports do return any time soon, they will look very different. Stadiums without fans provide a unique challenge to broadcasters and players alike: how do you operate without the atmosphere of fans in the crowd?

Sports media agency Fanview has experience solving this kind of unusual problem. The company provides creative technology to sports and e-sports organisations, and has worked with UEFA on the Champions League Final, as well as with NBC on the Superbowl. Its digital credentials include providing production to the Fortnite Pro-AM, a widely-publicised crossover event that saw celebrities competing with e-sports athletes.

Managing Director Jim Irving says the company can provide virtual fans that are a little bit more high-tech than cardboard cut-outs: “3D avatars are nothing new – the film industry has been doing it for many years – but we’ve been trying to make it scalable for live TV.


[You can read the full version of this article in our (free!) digital magazine at this link]