Der Klassiker: Delivering the most extensive and highest quality media product ever

Aerial Camera System above the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK stadium
Photo: DFL/Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber

9 December 2021 – Last weekend’s “Der Klassiker” encounter between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München (Saturday, 6:30 PM CET) was delivered as a premium media product with a host of innovative options for viewers around the world, delivering greater variety and higher quality than ever before.

The centrepiece is the DFL’s comprehensive production concept for top matches, which has been upgraded again for the current rights cycle. It comprises 26 cameras and continuous UHD quality. The following special cameras were at Der Klassiker:

  • Cinematic-look camera: a wireless handheld camera with a shallow depth of field that makes the foreground and background of the image clearly distinct from each other, resulting in a clear focus on certain players and objects. This renders the match even more full of life and colour.
  • Aerial camera system: This moves along wire ropes mounted between 50 centimetres and 20 metres above the pitch and reaches a top speed of around 30 km/h.
  • High-speed Polecam: a compact high-speed camera that allows extreme slow motion. Attached to a four-metre-long jib arm, it covers the entire goal, including the view through the goal net.
(video in German, English subtitles available)
  • Drone: augmented-reality elements can be inserted in the aerial shots taken by drones, and fed directly into the live signal.
  • Star cam: an automatically manoeuvrable camera that focuses on individual players and follows them around the entire pitch on the basis of live tracking data.

The sound quality is always on the ball thanks to live tracking data

As with all Bundesliga encounters, the DFL will also handle all aspects of production of this match for its international media partners and provide a broadcast-quality signal. A state-of-the-art microphone concept delivers sound quality that is always on the ball: A total of 17 microphones stationed around the edge of the pitch pick up the sound of the action via automated audio-mixing technology. Live tracking data tells the system the precise focal point on the pitch. As a result, the microphones close to the ball are activated and the sound is delivered at close range.

Several international media partners reported live from the stadium, taking their viewers to the heart of the action, e.g. Viaplay (Nordic Entertainment Group, NENT) for Scandinavia and Poland; ESPN for the US and South America; and Canal+ for Francophone Africa. Well-known international commentators such as Derek Rae (US), Kan Zeng (China) and Jean-Charles Sabattier (France) called the match for the broadcasters in the respective national language. Numerous Bundesliga Legends were also available to the broadcasters as interview partners at the match, including former Bayern star Claudio Pizarro.

Commentary for the international DFL production was provided by Phil Bonney and Patrick Owomoyela. Owomoyela played for Borussia Dortmund from 2008 – 2013, winning two Bundesliga titles with BVB. His heart rate during the match will be measured and made visible to viewers.

AI supports the live commentators

In addition, the DFL has made the “Commentary Live System” available to all live commentators. This is the first tool of its kind in the world to be assisted by artificial intelligence: The “Data Story Finder” uses smart algorithms to seek out suitable “stories” from the automatically captured live match data by relating it to further match, season or historical data. One example is the Bundesliga Match Fact “Average Positions”, which analyses whether there are any major differences in the structure of a team’s positional play compared to the previous season.

Highlights on demand and match data at the touch of a button.
Photo: DFL/Getty Images/Boris Streubel

Two international media partners, SkyPerfectTV! in Japan and Network 4 in Hungary, gave their viewers the chance to watch Der Klassiker on the Interactive Feed. This new service revolutionises the viewing experience: along with the live stream, viewers are offered all match data, which they can display on their screen or hide at the touch of a button. They can also view highlight videos at any time. This new technology was developed within the DFL Group, with support from the Hamburg-based company TeraVolt and Amazon Web Services (AWS) , who provided key infrastructure such as streaming, hosting and data solutions for the service.

The Tactical Feed emphasises match data and analysis

Sky Deutschland and 18 international media partners also showed the Tactical Feed. With this feed, the main camera picture constantly keeps all 20 outfield players in view, while relevant information and graphics are shown throughout the match at relevant points in an L frame at the edge of the screen. This includes the popular advanced analytics tool Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS, which highlights the Average Positions of both teams, tactical data on the teams and individual information on the players. The Tactical Feed is supplied by the DFL in full and ready for transmission as a media product, and for the first time, international media partners such as ESPN were provided with designated live commentators for Der Klassiker: James Thorogood and European Champion Steffen Freund. In Germany, Sky has taken the Tactical Feed for all Bundesliga top-matches, with over 200,000 subscribers in Germany using the service at peak times.

With the Tactical Feed, relevant information and graphics are shown throughout the match at relevant points in an L frame at the edge of the screen.

Bundesliga highlights as digital out-of-home content

Outdoor digital advertising spaces also help to ensure that the key scenes from the match are widely shown. The DFL was the first sports league in the world to invite tenders for a special rights package for the “digital out-of-home” segment (DOOH): The rights to use outdoor digital advertising spaces to show short highlight clips that sum up the main match action in no more than 60 seconds. The best part? As this innovative broadcast opportunity was offered at the beginning of this season with the new rights cycle, for the first time ever, highlight sequences of Der Klassiker will be shown on the nearly 20,000 screens in Germany, to which rights-holder Axel Springer has access.

DFL‘s unique glass-to-glass strategy

The DFL pursues a unique glass-to-glass strategy with which it handles large parts of the media process chain itself, from the lenses of the broadcasting cameras to the screens of the users’ devices. This in-depth value creation enables the DFL to adapt its media production to changing viewing habits and regularly develop contemporary, innovative media products. With its integrated business model and extensive experience in media production of live sport, the DFL can produce Bundesliga, Bundesliga 2 and Supercup matches to a level of quality that is unparalleled in European league football. Innovations are constantly tested, with many of them going on to be adopted by the DFL. This increases the range of media options for partners and fans, and provides ever more opportunities for localisation and personalisation.