DFL tests world’s first football broadcast in 9:16 format

4 December 2019 – Football in 9:16 instead of 16:9? What initially sounds like a numerical mix-up was successfully tested for the first time by the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga last weekend: The Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and SV Werder Bremen was produced in a 9:16 format in addition to the usual broadcast format. The DFL is thus responding to the changed media usage behaviour and the increasing consumption of videos on mobile devices: the 9:16 format is primarily intended for use on smartphones and in social media. For the first time, the DFL has now tested how to optimise the production of a Bundesliga match for social media users.

The five additional cameras were tilted using special tripods. (Photos: DFL/Getty Images/Boris Streubel)

During the test transmission in Wolfsburg, the special 9:16 feed was produced with additional technology independent of the base signal. While the spectators in front of the screens did not notice a change, five additional cameras were used in the stadium for the 9:16 production. These professional broadcast cameras were tilted using special tripods to achieve top quality results and in a separate control room the monitors were also rotated by 90 degrees. With this technical set-up, the DFL’s high quality standard was also ensured in 9:16 – even in Ultra HD.

The test was implemented by the DFL subsidiaries DFL Digital Sports and Sportcast. “We are very satisfied with the test,” says Andreas Heyden, EVP Digital Innovations of the DFL Group. The vertical footage from the game in Wolfsburg is initially intended for internal evaluation. “As always, we develop innovations by adopting the fan’s perspective. We see that vertical videos in social media on mobile devices are better received than ones in horizontal orientation,” explains Heyden: “The successful test in Wolfsburg provides us with a good basis for further considerations as to how we can do even better justice to this usage behaviour in the future.”

Innovative perspectives

The DFL regularly offers new perspectives to viewers and media partners. For this purpose, Bundesliga matches are produced with up to 25 cameras. Numerous special cameras, such as aerial camera systems, drones, the corner flag camera, which was specially developed within the DFL Group, or – as in “Der Klassiker” between FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund in April of this year – a mini ultra-slow motion camera for special slow motion of goalscoring opportunities, are used at close range. The DFL uses the images supplied by several special cameras regularly also with the help of augmented-reality technology to present various graphical elements such as team line-ups and statistics as if they can actually be seen inside the stadium, rather than purely for the benefit of fans watching on screens. Most recently, this technology was used for the first time in conjunction with a drone:

Together with Messe Düsseldorf, the DFL will be bringing these and other innovations to life at next year’s SportsInnovation 2020 in March. You can find more information at www.sportsinnovation.de/en/.