Will Drones Revolutionize Olympic Broadcasting?

Will Drones Revolutionize Olympic Broadcasting?

In the last several years, drones have become exceedingly commonplace both commercially and institutionally. With near-foolproof stability and ease of use baked into their systems, drones are the number-one platform for “getting the shot.” And, if you watched the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, they’re also the number-one platform for drawing cool pictures in the sky – literally! To kick off the Games, Intel set a record with a coordinated swarm of 1218 image-assembling Shooting Star drones. But Olympic pageantry aside, there’s a deeper and more pressing question brewing: Will drones revolutionize Olympic broadcasting?

The easy answer is yes. (The hard answer, for the record, is yes, but not right away.) Using multiple drones to get unique, fresh angles on Olympic athletes as skiers and snowboarders bust moves down the slopes seems a natural extension of how sports broadcast technology has been evolving over the last several generations. Remember just a few months ago when the NFL’s normal cameras were blanked out by the fog on Monday Night Football, and the league had to resort to running “Madden Cam” for the whole game? People loved it. It was new and novel, sure, but the real magic was that suspended, maneuverable cameras can get the viewer far closer to the action than any other current method.

You can expect the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics to feature drone coverage of certain events in small pockets – there’s a lot of existing broadcast infrastructure still in place that will be prioritized, after all. However, the prevailing notion is that these drone shots will be highlight-reel-worthy, particularly in replays, and – if used correctly (and frequently) – these drone cameras should prompt a flurry of positive response on social media throughout the Games.

Imagine a speed run in the Alpine Downhill discipline broadcast from a view virtually over the shoulder of the athlete blasting down the slopes. Imagine a view of Aerials from the apex of every spinning, flipping, twisting trick. Yes, the Winter Olympics are always fresh (given their every-four-years nature), but anything to make the Games more technologically relevant is a welcome development, particularly as traditional television ratings are taking a bath in the age of online streaming content. The Olympics don’t need saving, but USA online sportsbooks thinks they could always use a little help.

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