Digital technology promises lots of interactive fun for loyal fans

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 October, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 October, 1999, 12:00am

With football and television becoming more inextricably intertwined what kind of technological revolutions are in store for the new millennium? Cable and satellite are already responsible for giving us a far greater range of programming than terrestrial channels could ever dream of.

As in the UK, Hong Kong has seen an explosion of soccer coverage in the 90s.

Now there are reports of further radical changes to come.

The advent of digital television in Britain, like with the launch of satellite TV, has chosen to piggy-back its way into viewers' homes through the medium of soccer.

Just as SKY TV became much in demand by securing exclusive rights to the English top flight matches, the OnDigital company (part owned by the Carlton and Granada companies) is using exclusive rights to the Champions' League games of Britain's four teams - Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Rangers.

Viewers are required to possess a scrambler box, as Sky viewers required a dish. The boast of digital technology is that it can carry a vast number of channels with very high quality sound and pictures.

The promise of the future is that every club will be able to have its own digital channel.

And there are even more fantastic innovations in the pipeline. Recently SKY launched a novel service called Sky Sports Active, which claims to be the UK's first interactive sports channel.

The gimmick in this case is that the technology allows the viewer to become their own producer.

From the comfort of their armchairs, fans will be able to direct their own game by switching camera angles, calling up match statistics or viewing action replays and highlights at any time during coverage.

The stats cover information such as who is in the starting line-up, who is on the bench or who is injured, and include players' biographical data.

The 'replay' feature scrolls back 30 seconds from the moment the button is pressed, so an incident can be reviewed immediately.

And, most fascinating of all, is the 'angle' facility whereby an extra camera viewpoint from behind the goal is available, providing a better vantage point for corners and penalties.

Television screens can be split so the live action continues on one side, allowing replays or other crucial moments to be shown on the other.

It sounds seriously addictive for the devoted couch potato. But how soon, if at all, will it be available in Hong Kong.



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