The NFL Draft revolutionizes fan engagement

Partners in NFL broadcast innovation

Since its inception in 1936, the NFL Draft has innovated to keep up with evolving fan demands. Over the years, the Draft has become one of the NFL’s most highly anticipated programs, with a hyper-engaged audience live at the venue.

With 2020’s COVID-19 lockdown, however, the NFL needed to pivot its show to activate fans virtually and deliver an audience experience that felt like the in-person event. LTN® Global was waiting on the sidelines to drive the ball forward.

Challenge: Virtual fan activation at scale

The NFL’s challenge was threefold:

  1. Capture and manage hundreds of live fan feeds
  2. Execute this contribution in a way that makes fans feel like they’re part of the event
  3. Implement a way for the Commissioner to engage with them

The NFL wanted to fully simulate the inner circles of a traditional Draft: 30 fans per team contributing live video feeds, to be integrated into a branded team mosaic the NFL Commissioner could interact with.

Solution: Revolutionary, specialized production workflow

The NFL enlisted a specialist cohort that included The Famous Group (TFG), VIXI, Quince Image, and LTN Global. This complex production included custom-branded landing pages with secure sign-in credentials, which were shared with select fans for each of the 32 teams playing in the National Football League.

Nearly 500 fans participated in the NFL Draft from the comfort and safety of their homes by streaming their reactions, which were integrated directly into the show. The fans contributed live video into LTN Live Video Cloud, where the production team organized the contributors through Quince Image’s graphical API, enabling each NFL team to display its own branded mosaic. The live broadcast mosaic ran on screens behind the Commissioner, showing 15 fan feeds at a time.

The Commissioner of the NFL Draft built excitement and directly interacted with the fan groups via a talk-back function using Live Video Cloud’s built-in WebRTC technology. The mixed multiview mosaic was sent as one output feed back to the production studio, allowing the viewers at home to see the fans’ live reactions on the Commissioner’s monitors during the show.

Ingest & engage

Live Video Cloud empowers producers to acquire unlimited concurrent live feeds from professional cameras, encoders, mobile phones, drones, and online sources (RTMP, MPEG-TS, WebRTC, SRT, HLS, MPEG-Dash). For the NFL Draft, LTN used WebRTC as it allowed contributors to download a dedicated app and engage with the Commissioner.

Content management

Incoming streams are collated into Live Video Cloud’s master control room within a continuous playback multiview. Once the content is available, production teams can use Live Video Cloud to leverage metadata, enabling them to filter contributors and explore sources by configured inputs. The process can apply several filters, such as professional cameras, mobile contributions, and geolocations.

Result: High quality, higher engagement, highest ratings

2020’s virtual NFL Draft was deemed a success by the league and its broadcast partners. It was the highest-rated Draft of all time and the most-watched sporting event since the pandemic shut down sports.