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Now you see me: Infront broadens horizons for sponsors at 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

First non-intrusive virtual advertising solution introduced in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark - Watching sport live is an experience unlike any other. However, the majority of fans engrossed in large, global tournaments such as the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be consuming games through broadcast.

Up until now, sponsors have found it difficult to specifically target stadium advertisements to a geographical market. Providing tailored messages to specific markets and languages is a constant aim for any brand.

Infront and Vizrt – the Zurich based world leader in real-time 3D graphics and sports analysis tools – joined forces to bring a non-intrusive virtual advertising solution to the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship for the first time, helping extend the investment made by sponsors to reach a relevant audience.

Localised brands for a global tournament

Four rink boards of four metres each at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen have been virtually overlaid using this innovative, machine-learning driven solution. They have been deployed on the corner boards as well as the straight boards behind the goals during the tournament. To spectators in-venue, they will be IIHF advertisements.However, to fans watching on TV in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus they will see a completely different sponsor message from the venue in Copenhagen.

By overlaying rink-side advertising boards, virtual advertising allows brands to regionally market messages on a global level and opens up a world of possibilities for tournaments going forward, delivering new value to sponsors."This is a new way for brands and sponsors to purposefully target their audience and this has only been done in a limited fashion until now," said Bruno Marty, Head of Winter Sports at Infront. "Fans are used to seeing a more customised message through many advertising solutions. Now we can deliver this through the global broadcast with market specific in-game advertising. In short, this technological evolution will help our partners provide a more relevant and impactful message to their TV audience."Once the tournament is over, Infront will assess and evaluate all aspects of the project, including the technique, cost and the opinions of all stakeholders. A decision on whether to carry it forward to future IIHF events will then be made.

“It is important for us to support innovative initiatives such as virtual advertising at this edition of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “Many events fall into a pattern of accepting the status quo and not pushing the boundaries of what is possible. It is incredibly beneficial to have a like-minded partner such as Infront who understands how to develop and implement new technology to further develop marketing opportunities for ice hockey. It is important for our future to see these new technical developments in our sport.”

The only non-intrusive solution

The system works by taking the normal broadcast signal from the television production truck, running it through a computer which then overlays the relevant boards.

That signal is sent to the local broadcaster that, in turn, delivers the live picture to the audience.

Importantly, this approach differs from other similar technology solutions available for virtual overlay by not interfering with either the standard TV production or the in-venue operations resulting in a smooth broadcast integration and a flexible system setup. This system is used in an effort to provide minimal impact on both cameras and boards.

Only the beginning

This innovation – which will only be implemented at the venue in Copenhagen, not Herning – is a leap forward for sport as a whole when it comes to virtual overlay. Infront and Vizrt are together introducing to the market the next generation in virtual overlay solutions, known as Viz Eclipse. Viz Eclipse, the first software and image-based virtual overlay solution, works with both static and LED boards from all manufacturers and supports broadcast centres or direct stadium implementation.

The partnership between Infront and Vizrt unites two market leaders with unmatched expertise in the global sports community. Fully committed, the team offers many decades of experience in sports marketing, media production, digital solutions and events delivery.

About Infront

Infront is a leading sports marketing company managing a comprehensive portfolio of top properties. Infront covers all aspects of successful sporting events, including the distribution of media rights, sponsorship, media production, event operation and digital solutions. Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, Infront has a team of more than 1,000 staff working from over 40 offices across more than 13 countries, delivering 4,100 event days of top class sport around the world every year. In 2015, Infront was integrated into Wanda Sports Group, part of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group.

 
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