Virtual advertising closer to becoming reality in English soccer
English soccer clubs have moved a step closer to introducing an additional revenue stream already benefitting teams in Spain and Italy's top flights with the deployment of new advertising boards this season.
A handful of teams in the top-tier Premier League and second-tier Championship have invested in perimeter technology that will then enable them to integrate the virtual replacement technology pioneered by Supponor, the sports media and technology company, and its partner ADI Group, the LED screen and signage experts, it has been announced.
Supponor’s own DBRLive technology, which enables dedicated billboard advertising to be shown to television audiences in different countries, generating extra revenues for the home club, has been used in LaLiga and Serie A for the past five seasons, but take-up has been held up in England as it could only be superimposed on static advertising boards and not on LED boards, which are widely used in the Premier League.
However, the launch at the beginning of the 2016-17 season of Virtual Hybrid digiBoard in partnership with ADI means clubs can continue to use LED advertising to push their sponsors' messages in-stadia during games, but also sell targeted advertising in markets around the world. The technology has been refined and was tested on a non-commercial basis at Premier League club Watford last season.
This season, ADI, which has led the UK stadium LED market over the past 25 years, has installed S-Line digiBoard perimeter systems at Everton and Crystal Palace in the Premier League and Derby County in the Championship, with another to be installed at second-tier Brentford next month.
Three more Premier League and Championship clubs have signed deals to install the systems throughout the season, according to Supponor.
While the S-Line model delivers traditional LED functionality, it is easily upgradable to become a Virtual Hybrid system.
Geraint Williams, chief executive of ADI, said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time for the commercial potential of perimeter media value. Virtual Hybrid technology makes it possible for media rights owners to commercialise the same in-game inventory in multiple markets, on many different platforms, and offer a highly targeted solution for partners.
"Whilst our Virtual Hybrid technology is already well proven in a live stadium environment and on commercial broadcast feeds, the next step now comes in bringing more clubs, leagues, federations and broadcasters together to define the commercial model to make virtual overlay a reality.”
Charlie Marshall, chief operating officer of Supponor, added: “There is a clearly a demand from clubs and brands across the world for a solution that integrates virtual overlay technology with LED. Our technology has been deployed on non-LED signage throughout La Liga, NHL, and Serie A over several seasons and will now accelerate the roll out on LED.
“To deliver a top broadcast quality virtual replacement solution which is accepted by the world’s leading broadcasters requires a combination of software and hardware technologies. However, as the hardware becomes more widely installed, barriers to adoption are rapidly reduced.”