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Infront takes sports marketing into the virtual world
Zug, Switzerland – Infront Sports & Media, the leading international sports marketing company, will collaborate with Vizrt, to jointly launch a cutting-edge virtual overlay solution – to be expected for the 2016/17 season. The fully-fledged version of the Viz Eclipse product will be exclusively distributed by Infront as part of its sports services portfolio, enabling rights holders to regionally tailor and streamline their marketing and commercialisation of sports events on a global basis. Though still in a testing phase, Infront and Vizrt will offer a preview to the Viz Eclipse product at the Sportel exhibition in Monaco as of today.
No board or camera adaptations required
Vizrt, a leading provider of virtual sports production tools, introduced Viz Eclipse at the 2015 International Broadcast Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. Viz Eclipse is a virtual replacement technology that allows field-side advertising boards to be virtually overlaid with unobtrusive (region-specific) advertising into television feeds of sports events, substituting traditional perimeter advertising. Most innovatively, the solution does not require any physical camera or board installations onsite, and works both on static or LED boards.
Infront will support Vizrt in further developing and refining the technology, based on its substantial experience in the fields of media production and advertising technology – e.g. as long-standing host broadcaster and provider of LED advertising solutions to various major sports properties. Both partners will offer rights holders a game-changing virtual overlay solution that guarantees fully reliable, high-quality performance.
Powerful combination of skills
Working with 170 rights holders in sport as well as hundreds of sponsors and media companies, Infront will contribute its profound market insight and sports marketing know-how to the new partnership. Furthermore, it will provide access to testing environments and leverage its proximity to rights holders, sponsors, broadcasters and media production entities. Vizrt will bring on its superior technical capabilities and production know-how to further drive the engineering process of its in-house product.
Philippe Blatter, President & CEO of Infront, commented: “We have been monitoring the development of virtual overlay technology for many years to ensure we can provide our clients with an effective solution, once technological progress meets their high quality standards. Viz Eclipse is a ground-breaking move forward and we are ready to invest in the refinement of the product. Jointly with Vizrt, we will soon bring a perfected and fully reliable solution to the market, which will allow rights holders to monetise their events on a global basis. Viz Eclipse will open up a new era of sports advertising.”
Primary focus on football
Martin Burkhalter, CEO of Vizrt, added: “Infront has proven its foresightedness in the area of sports advertising and production already in the past and we are glad to partner with a company that is so close to the needs and expectations of the sports industry. Our technology is now ready for the next level and we are convinced that it will transform the marketing capabilities of modern sport. While the initial focus will be on pitch-side advertising in football, this technology has the potential to revolutionise the marketing of many sports disciplines in the long run.”
Viz Eclipse has thus far been tested with licensed footage from national and international football matches, and will soon enter a live-testing phase. Infront and Vizrt expect market entry throughout the 2016/17 season. Based on image-based camera tracking, the solution does not require additional physical installations onsite, which makes it very flexible and easy to implement. It works on multi-colour backgrounds such as LED and static boards, and rendering filters allow for seamless blending of virtual signage with the stadium’s environmental conditions. Using advanced keying techniques, the ads appear natural in the background, allowing freedom of camera movement. Broadcasters will continue to be provided with a ready-made TV-signal, since the virtual advertising will be integrated smoothly and unobtrusively in the production process.
About Infront Sports & Media
Infront Sports & Media is the most respected sports marketing company in the world, managing a comprehensive portfolio of top properties. Led by President & CEO Philippe Blatter, Infront covers all aspects of successful sporting events – including distribution of media rights, sponsorship, media production and event operation – and has won a reputation for its high standards of delivery. As the number one player in winter sport and with a leading role in football, summer and endurance sports, Infront enjoys long-lasting partnerships with 170 rights-holders and hundreds of sponsors and media companies. Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, Infront has a team of more than 650 experienced staff working from 25 offices across 13 countries, delivering 4,000 event days of top class sport around the world every year.
Vizrt provides real-time 3D graphics, studio automation, sports analysis and asset management tools for the media and entertainment industry. This includes interactive and virtual solutions, animations, maps, weather, video editing, compositing, and playout tools. Vizrt has customers in more than 100 countries worldwide including CNN, CBS, Fox, BBC, BSkyB, Al Jazeera, NDR, ITN, ZDF, Star TV, Network 18, TV Today, CCTV, NHK and the list keeps growing. Vizrt has nearly 600 employees and operates in 40 offices worldwide. Vizrt is a privately owned company by Nordic Capital Fund VIII.