MLS 2019 Preview: Univision Deportes Ramps Up ‘Teleportation,’ Continues To Blaze At-Home–Production Trail
The ‘Home of Soccer’ will also increase in-game use of mics on coaches
As the “Home of Soccer” in the U.S., Univision Deportes is set produce 27 MLS regular-season matches plus the MLS All-Star Game, Playoffs, and 2019 MLS Cup this season. The Spanish-language network will continue to use an at-home production model, which it helped pioneer four years ago, for its MLS production while increasing its use of “teleportation“ studio technology, adding a high-speed camera for game coverage, and increasingly deploying mics on coaches for in-game audio.
“Univision Deportes has established itself as the Home of Soccer in the U.S. through both its unparalleled live-rights portfolio and best-in-class presentation,” says Miguel Angel Garcia, SVP, live events, Univision Deportes. “Our philosophy is stay true to our award-winning quality and consistency while continuing to innovate and maintaining a unique look and feel. We anticipate a very successful season as MLS continues to attract new fans and grow in stature.”
Univision Deportes aims to ride the wave of 2018, when its MLS telecasts saw a 14% boost in viewership, lifting the network to its most-watched MLS campaign ever.
Studio Coverage: ‘Teleportation’ To Play Big Role
Univision Deportes integrates augmented-reality elements into its studio shows as much as — if not more than — any sports broadcaster, and that trend will continue this season. Univision plans to deploy its “teleportation” method more regularly during its MLS pregame shows in 2019. The innovative “teleportation” studio technology allows players, coaches, and other personalities to “appear” in the studio in the form of a hologram and interact with the host.
“[Teleportation] allows us to showcase the league’s prominent stars to build a more passionate and well-informed fanbase,” says Garcia. “This has been a great success since we started using it with our other properties. Our aim is to bring MLS to life as we grow with the league.”
The technology, which has been used by Univision for its studio shows for several years and was even used at the Premio Univision Deportes awards show in 2017, is made possible via Vizrt’s Viz Engine and Tracking Hub, as well as NCAM’s optical tracking system.
Univision Deportes’ onsite MLS pre-game show, La Barra MLS, will return for its fourth season. Fans in attendance will play an even larger part in the show, testing their soccer knowledge against Univision Deportes experts. In addition, for each match, viewers can expect appearances by celebrities linked to the host city.
Centralized-Production Model Enters Fourth Year at Univision
Univision Deportes is now entering its fourth season of using an at-home production model for MLS telecasts. The network will be producing all its regular-season matches by transmitting camera/audio feeds to a central control room at Univision’s Miami broadcast center.
“[The at-home model] has been successful in prior seasons,” says Garcia. “Cameras will transmit to the control room, where we feel that we have better control of the production with the use of our vast resources at HQ.”
With the exception of its four double-headers, announcers for each match will continue to be located onsite.
“We feel that it is essential to have our talent onsite and embedded in the action,” says Garcia. “By experiencing the match atmosphere and interacting with fans, they can relay the passion that they see around them to our audience at home.”
NEP will once again provide a small mobile unit onsite for these at-home shows. “NEP is the industry leader in delivering technology and logistical expertise onsite around the U.S. We have been extremely satisfied with their work and professionalism. We strive to bring quality and consistency to every match that we broadcast, and NEP has helped us achieve that.”
Match Coverage: New Super-Slo-Mo, More In-Game Coaches Audio
Univision Deportes’ average MLS production will feature 12 cameras: nine hard cameras, including a super-low cam; two POVs; and, new this year, a Sony HDC-3300 super-slo-mo camera.
“The beautiful game is very fast-paced and can sometimes be a game of inches,” says Garcia. “Sometimes, it is hard to see every moment clearly in real time. Our new super-slo-mo camera will allow viewers to revisit key plays and calls and [enable] our talent to provide more informed insights.”
An additional goal for the 2019 season is to increase in-game coaches audio through its “MLS Access” segments.
Says Garcia, “This will allow our fans to go inside the minds of some of the premier Hispanic coaches in the game today.”
MLS matches will air on Univision and UniMás, with most matches simulcast on Univision Deportes Network, and will be live-streamed on the Univision Deportes app, Univision Now, and UnivisionDeportes.com. Univision’s MLS coverage kicks off Saturday with Orlando City SC vs. NYCFC on Univision at 2:30 p.m. ET.