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Drones In Live Sports Broadcasting


May 9, 2024

Oftentimes, you’ll see stunning aerial shots outside a stadium before or after a game to set the scene for the upcoming match. No matter the sport, these shots traditionally came from large, expensive blimps or were pre-recorded on a different day. Networks occasionally even use the same footage throughout the season. However, advancements in technology have revolutionized this aspect of broadcasting. Today, video transmission from small drones can meet resolutions acceptable for broadcast, in real-time, with minimal latency. This breakthrough allows for the use of live aerial video captured by compact drones, providing dynamic and fresh perspectives during live sports broadcasts.

Real-Time Drone Footage in Major Sporting Events

At Hartley Aerial, we’ve had the privilege of flying live for major events such as the NCAA Cheez-It Bowl, The Florida Classic, and Lionel Messi’s debut game at Inter Miami. These experiences have demonstrated the incredible potential of drones in enhancing live sports broadcasts. The unique angles captured by our drones have added a new dimension to the viewing experience, bringing fans closer to the action in ways that were previously impossible. Setting the scene in real-time of the excitement happening inside acting as a dynamic part of the show.

The Challenge and Potential of Drones in Live Sports

Despite their potential, drones are not yet a common fixture in live sports broadcasts. This is primarily due to FAA regulations. Which limits the diversity of shots that drones can capture, and concerns for the safety of the audience. However, the unique perspectives offered by drones cannot be denied. For instance, our aerial shots from Messi’s 2023 debut game have been repurposed across countless highlight reels. These clips have not only appeared on the Messi AppleTV documentary but also featured in the recently released Beckham Netflix documentary, showcasing the enduring value of our footage.

Skills Required for Successful Live Drone Broadcasts

Executing live drone broadcasts at major sports events is no small feat. It requires a seamless combination of various skills and expertise, all working in unison. Here’s a closer look at what it takes:

  • Piloting Skills: Expert drone pilots must navigate complex environments and maintain stable flight paths to capture smooth and engaging footage.
  • Resource Management: Effective coordination of battery life, signal strength, and airspace management ensures uninterrupted coverage.
  • Cinematography: Understanding the principles of cinematography allows pilots to frame shots that are visually compelling and broadcast-ready.
  • Broadcast Knowledge: Familiarity with broadcast standards and real-time video transmission is crucial to meet the high expectations of live television.
  • Live Show Reaction: Pilots and their teams must be able to react swiftly to the dynamic nature of live events, adjusting their approach to capture the most impactful moments.


The Future of Drones in Live Sports

As time goes on, we anticipate a broader acceptance and integration of drones into live sports broadcasts, even for smaller shows. The unique, immersive angles that drones provide can enhance the viewer’s experience, making them feel as if they are part of the action for affordable rates. At Hartley Aerial, we are at the forefront of this transformation, continuously pushing the boundaries of what is possible with drone technology in live sports.

Contact Us

Interested in learning more about how our drone services can enhance your next sports broadcast? Contact Hartley Aerial today to discover how we can provide stunning, real-time aerial footage that captivates audiences and elevates your production.

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