Football: Missed a goal? Play it again
Alex Hayes test drives Sky's new interactive football vehicle
Sunday 22 August 1999
The novel service is Britain's first interactive sports channel, giving viewers the chance to be their own producers. From the comfort of their armchair, 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.
Can it work? An exclusive taste of what will be served up today, during Southampton's 4-2 home win over Newcastle last Sunday, provided some of the answers.
The operating system is straightforward enough. Subscribers will view the service through the specially created Sky Sports Extra channel, while all the features will be accessed by the standard Sky Digital remote control. Pressing a red button launches the interactive mode, after which an on- screen menu offers four options. Whenever one of the options is entered, the live picture is reduced to the top left corner of the screen, thus allowing fans to survey the action while playing around with the interactive buttons.
The "stats" are a wonderful up-to-the-minute guide as to who is in the starting line-up, who is on the bench or who is injured. It allows the audience to scour squads for information on players. It certainly settles arguments. Want to know when Dwight Yorke signed for Manchester United and for how much? It is all there.
Another interesting feature is the "replay", which scrolls back 30 seconds from the moment the button is pressed, so the devotee can review an incident immediately, rather than have to wait for the programme director to replay the footage.
Last Monday night's game between Aston Villa and West Ham illustrated the value of "highlights". Two goals were scored in the first 10 minutes, so anybody who was slightly delayed in getting home from work would have missed the early action. Highlights allow couch potatoes, in a matter of seconds, to be up to speed with the progress of a match.
Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the operation is the "angle" facility. From today, an extra camera view from behind one of the goals will be available. Not only does this provide a better vantage point for corners and penalties, it also offers a clearer idea of how defences operate (or in Newcastle's case, how they fail).
Sky Sports Active gives viewers the opportunity to watch football matches as they see fit. Armchair fans will have something like the freedom of the stadium supporter. With extra features to come, such as access to four camera angles from January, the technological possibilities are endless.
Those who argue this is just a gimmick are right. But be warned, it is seriously addictive.
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
- 3 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...