FIFA World Cup online at cbc.ca – and why I won’t be watching it on TV (again)

I am losing sleep over the FIFA World Cup – me and about 5 billion other people.  But I’ve been captivated as much by the jaw-dropping technology deployed as by the beautiful game being played.  I’m also riveted by the evolution of broadcast media.

I’ve been watching CBC Sports on-line in the evenings, and haven’t been able to stop. I have never come across a richer or more immersive browser experience, and all that technical wizardry has been wrapped in a design that is easy to navigate and explore. Included below are screenshots of a few of my favourite features, which should provide you with a glimpse of the overall experience.

Choose the Schedule & Results link circled in red below…

schedule & results: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup… and then a choose a match.  I was interested in the Swiss game, and wanted to see the last goal scored at the end of Injury Time.

choose a match: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World CupThe Events ribbon at the bottom of the screen can be displayed, and it allows me to select a particular part of the match to watch.  It includes a helpful legend to show when shots, goals or cards were issued.

events ribbon: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup

I could watch the main feed, or choose one the dots in the Events ribbon to watch one of as many as 18 different camera angles of the same play.

Main feed or specific event: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup

I was interested in the final goal, so hovered over the dot in the event ribbon, and selected Multi-Cam.  This provided a full screen view of the play from different camera angles.

multicam

A popup window allows you to select from a scrolling list of camera angles.

Scrolling list of camera angles: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup

The in-depth stats provided a really intuitive way to dive deeper into the match, from individual player stats, tactics and heatmaps, to passing efficiency and distance covered in possession.

tactics& heatmaps: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup

passing & distances: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup

I found the multi-stream view a little distracting at first, but it allows you to watch one of a number of optional feeds to the right of the main screen at the same time.  This was useful watching the tactics of the entire field, an individual player, or team bench on smaller screens at the right, while watching the main feed on the left.

Multi-stream view: cbc.ca online coverage of FIFA World Cup

I’ve talked to a number of people about how the online tools and coverage have evolved over the last few major sporting events, such as the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Though I have had a computer media server attached to my TV for years, I’ve never made the jump and used it to stream live sporting events or watch recorded streams.  I think the World Cup this year has changed that dynamic for me – I’ve reached the tipping point for internet vs. television for major sporting events.  The ability to interact easily with the content is too compelling a feature to ignore.

The technology arc from Adobe Flash to Silverlight to HTML5 has now been pushed into the background, and we are left with an intuitive user experience that allows me to interact with the content in ways that I had never imagined were possible.  Television had been reduced to Sports and News for me in the last while.  I think it is just News now, and even that is pretty tenuous.

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