The International Champions Cup production studio.
(Editor's Note: this story first appeared in SportTechie.com)
The International Champions Cup (ICC), a series of international club soccer matches that includes 12 matches played across 11 cities throughout the United States, is one tech-savvy tournament founded and hosted by Relevent Sports.
Fans attending matches as well as those unable to make it in person will be impacted by tech. For the players, they’ll experience it as well. And the technology has come a long way.
Daniel Sillman, Director of Business Development at RSE Ventures — of which Relevent Sports is a division — recalled that when the ICC partnered with NextVR in 2015 to stream the first live VR broadcast of a major league soccer match, there was a three-camera setup to capture the action between Manchester United and FC Barcelona at Levi’s Stadium.
Two years later, there will be 12 VR cameras capturing El Clásico Miami in a July 29 rivalry match at Hard Rock Stadium between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona along with a VR Center at the Casa Clásico fan fest so fans can watch highlights from eight other preceding matches courtesy of NextVR.
“That creates a totally new opportunity for brands to touch consumers outside of the match itself,” Sillman said at Hashtag Sports.
Here are the top 5 tech storylines impacting the International Champions Cup:
NextVR will have a live broadcast of El Clásico Miami and also release highlight content for nine other matches two days after each match has been played. The highlights package begins with Manchester United’s 2-0 win in Houston against Manchester City, which will be available on the NextVR app on Saturday.
Fans will need a Samsung Gear VR headset or Google Daydream View along with a compatible smartphone to access the content.
The live broadcast of El Clásico Miami will include dedicated announcers and the halftime show featuring Marc Anthony and behind-the-scenes footage exclusive to VR. There was a pretournament show in VR featuring former United States men's national soccer team standout Cobi Jones, and there will be a recap show featuring top plays from throughout the matches NextVR is covering.
“The ICC offers a premium viewing experience whether you’re in the stadium or at home, and this partnership will play a key role in following through on that promise,” Relevent Sports chief commercial officer Bruce Bundrant said in a statement.
Sillman said the VR content could be considered new inventory that would be an enhancement and complementary to the coverage on ESPN’s family of networks rather than anything that would cannibalize the TV broadcasts or stadium experience.
Fans who download the free ICC Fan Passport app can participate in a social rewards program in which they can earn badges by engaging with club and sponsor activations at fan fests that can be redeemed for jerseys, pregame field passes and seat upgrades. RFID encoded wristbands can be collected throughout Casa Clásico.
Fans will also receive access to content including the Rep Your Club Meme Generator, interactive Club social pages, and a lightshow that allows fans to showcase their team pride while lighting up the sky at select ICC matches.
“We are excited to partner with Thuzi to create a truly immersive experience for fans of the ICC,” Relevent Sports CEO David Tyler said in a statement. “The ICC prides itself on offering fans a premium experience leading up to and throughout every match. ICC Fan Passport allows us to further engage with fans while rewarding them for the loyalty and commitment they have shown over the past five years.”
Before the tournament, FC Barcelona had the WIMU Pro player tracking system installed at Camp Nou, the club’s 15 pitches and recuperations areas to monitor and collect data from players at training sessions and select matches.
In collaboration with the Barca Innovation Hub, FC Barcelona signed with WIMU Pro for the season to provide wearable sensors that track movements, biometric data and positional data for insights that can lead to tactical analytics for coaches and data for the medical staff for the purpose of injury prevention.
Dugout has partnered with the ICC and Relevent Sports to produce exclusive original video and behind-the-scenes content for the clubs, tournament organizers, sponsors and affiliates.
The ICC will have a dedicated channel on Dugout for users as videographers will accompany FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, A.S. Roma, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain around the tournament and be embedded within their camps to capture footage from training and inside the dressing rooms.
“With access to hotels, team planes, training sessions and more, our users will be able to enjoy Dugout’s unique brand of videos throughout the ICC tournament – giving fans unparalleled exclusive access to the clubs and players taking part,” Dugout chairman Elliot Richardson said in a statement.
Fanatics and the ICC have an expanded omnichannel retail partnership. Fanatics this year will operate in-venue retail for all 12 matches taking place across the U.S. and power the online tournament shop, icc.teamfanshop.com that provides access to club merchandise and memorabilia.