How SPFL clubs could make streaming an immersive experience for fans - virtual fanzone to on-field interviews

A look at possible ways in which clubs can make streaming games a more immersive experience for fans

The 2020/21 Scottish football season is going to be a weird one. That there is no doubt. Yet, it also presents clubs with an opportunity.

One of which is the streaming of games.

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In all likelihood, certainly in the Premiership if matches begin in August, games will take place behind closed doors, or at the very best in front of partial crowds.

How can clubs make streaming games a more immersive experience for fans? Picture: SNS

Fans are going to have to watch games online and via official streams to get their action.

Of course, Scottish football clubs are not blessed with money so certain avenues will be limited and simply not feasible. But what exactly could clubs do to provide their fans with a more immersive experience than simply staring at a screen agonising for 90 minutes?

How could clubs bring fans closer to the action?

Commentary options

One of Scottish football's best recent moments saw Willo Flood get really annoyed with a camera. Picture: SNS

Many clubs in Scotland have their own commentary teams which has seen the development of a sub-culture within the game. Clipping the partisan nature of the commentary, whether it is these fans celebrating wildly or treating the opposition or referee with utter disdain, to put on social media.

The most popular may just be Rangers TV. Something about the goalkeeper and doing something.

Clubs could look to mix it up, which some already do. Players not in the squad or injured could join the main commentator to provide co-comms.

Or better yet, a competition of season-ticket holders could take place with a new fan joining a commentator each week. It provides a different voice on a weekly basis, while also allowing for a fan to see the game in the flesh.

There is also the possibility of going even further. Remember Sky Sports’ Fan Zone?

Legend Q&As

You may find fans don’t actually want commentary. There may be scope for people within the clubs, be it unused players, directors, staff or legends to take part in a live Q&A when the game is going on.

Questions are being sent in during the game and they answer as the action is going in.

Russell Latapy is just about to tell a story of his best ever night out only for Christian Doidge to inconveniently bundle in the opening goal to put Hibs ahead. It allows for enough time for the former playmaker to be ushered on to the next question.

Virtual fanzone

Anyone who has had to watch a game on a ‘dodgy’ stream will have encountered the terrible live chat boxes which sometimes accompany the game.

That could be an option for fans to communicate with one another while watching the game.

There will be a lot of fans who would like to watch games with their family and friends that are unable to. Could there be the possibility of private chat functions as part of the online streaming to chat in small groups?

Different angles

To have a more immersive experience it would be good for clubs to offer up a range of camera angles, even if some arrive through Go-pro footage.

The one fixed camera position from the gantry will make games feel monotonous and see some fans’ focus and attention drift elsewhere.

Being able to choose the stand which you watch the game for could make it feel more homely and closer to the action, or simply offering up a unique perspective of games or replays would add to the enjoyment.

That all being said, cameras are expensive.

Tunnel and dressing room audio

Clubs have a massive opportunity to really take you inside the action. It may not be something wanted by managers, but providing tunnel and dressing room video and audio will bring fans closer to their the team by offering this behind the scenes insight.

As fans we’d love to know what celebrations sound and look like after a huge win. What music is going on? Who is the main cheerleader? Who is absolutely terrible at dancing?

In terms of the tunnel. We’re all just wanting to see a bit of aggro, let’s face it.

Player cam

Supporters have paid for season tickets already. They are not able to attend matches in the flesh so clubs should be wanting to give them more than the 90 minutes of football. With that, get them viewing much earlier and there is plenty to be done pre-match, including behind the scenes footage as mentioned above or player cam – ‘A match day with Scott Brown’.

Get a player to put on a go pro for the warm up. Watch as he goes through his paces. Many fans don’t tend to pay too much attention to the players warming up. Now is the chance to see exactly what players do.

Alternatively, get players to record pre-match build-up by chatting to team-mates or, again, just providing that peak behind the curtain.

Dugout cameras

It gets to the 60th minute, you’re wanting your manager to make a change. With the dugout camera you can see what’s going on, maybe even what’s being said. You can agitate and moan just as if you were at the game.

It gets to the 65th minute, the wide man has been sacrificed and he’s fizzing. You see him storming up the tunnel on the tunnel cam before he’s been told to sit back in the dugout. You then get to see him stewing on the bench.

On-pitch audio

Let’s be honest. We’re all looking forward to watching games and hearing the players’ shouts. Add in more audio around the pitch to make it even clearer.

We want to hear what players are saying to each other. What is Steven Naismith barking at his Hearts team-mates? What is Scott Brown saying to the referee? What are defenders saying to Alfredo Morelos?

Half-time interviews

How many times has a legend been invited on to the pitch at half-time for the 50/50 draw but you’ve been unable to make out what he’s saying?

Streaming games will allow teams to put out really interesting and in-depth interviews across the interval, whether it be about the match itself or a particular moment from the club’s past or even a chat with a member of staff about different aspects of the club the fans may not know about.

Highlights of classic games

Another option to fill the half-time break would be highlights of classic matches. You have just suffered through 45 minutes of tepid rubbish, thinking why you bother. The sun is shining and luring you outside where there is joy and happiness.

Just as you are about to close your laptop, on comes that famous cup final win, you can’t not watch it. Fifteen minutes later you are beaming, ready to back your team.

Forty-five minutes later you are raging again. Ach well.

On-field interviews

This is something Motherwell do straight after the match and is very common across American sports. They interview players on the pitch minutes after the game is finished looking for raw feeling and emotion.

Usually fans have to wait a significant period of time to hear from players and managers, especially if the game is not televised. Behind closed doors streaming presents clubs with an opportunity to speak to their manager and players, not just at full-time, but at half-time, aiming to give fans further insight to what they have been watching.

Marketing

Clubs need money. That’s not even up for debate. When the game is going on they don’t often get the opportunity to advertise stuff right in front of fans who are too focused on the game.

With streaming there is the ability to put graphics on screen that can’t be missed by fans. They can advertise upcoming games, the new kit and even simply promote charities such as Big Hearts for example.

Artificial noise

It is something which has been brought up since the start of the Bundesliga. Feeding in fans noise to make watching the game feel normal.

Clubs could engage with fans to get them to vote at different moments in the game for one of the club’s songs to be played.

John Souttar is about to step out of defence with the ball at his feet only to be spooked completely by Hector Nicol suddenly blaring over the tannoy.