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
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...