ESPN’s sports talk/game show, Around the Horn will be celebrating its 16th year with a major facelift that will debut on November 5th. The new format will include fresh graphics, new animations, a redesigned logo, and updated music. More importantly, Around the Horn is the first domestic U.S. show to feature AR functionality throughout the entirety of a 30-minute broadcast.
If you’re not familiar with Around the Horn, it can best be described as a light-hearted competitive game show centered around current sports topics. The show’s long-time host, Tony Reali, introduces three sports headlines and then has panelists join him via Face Time to discuss, argue, and give rebuttals. Each panelist competes for points in hopes of making it to the final showdown where they duke it out in a passionate sports debate. Reali also has the ability to deduct points by “muting” a commentator. Those with the most points by the end of the show has 30 unninterupted seconds to voice any final opinions.
During the shows new format, Reali will use AR technology to pull up images that he can shrink and enlarge at will. Not only that, but he’ll also be using social-media style filters to “love,” “like,” or “disagree” with his guests – all in a way that not only promises to enhance how panelist debate and interact with each other. Those watching at home also have a chance to immerse themselves in the discussion with a second-screen experience they can play at home.
“Augmented reality is something we’ve wanted to try for years. A show with an impeccable scoring system and an immaculately wielded mute button just begs for that type of total immersion,” said Reali in an official ESPN press release.
The idea to use AR stemmed from ESPN Production’s senior director, Alex Tyner, who envisioned the use of VR and AR as an opportunity to enhance the incredible talent of the show’s host, Reali.
Two years later, the new show format is now in rehearsals at their new location at ESPN’s Seaport Studios in lower Manhattan.
“Around the Horn launched in November 2002 with cutting-edge technology as part of its DNA. Now 16 years later, the show has been re-imagined with state-of-the-art enhancements and a revamped aesthetic that we think fans are really going to enjoy,” said Alex Tyner, ESPN senior director, original content.
“This project is the culmination of many months of innovative thinking and collaboration across ESPN and we are excited to unveil all the new bells and whistles.”
Producers from Around the Horn turned to engineers, designers, technicians, and integrators from ESPN’s Remote Production Operations unit and Creative Services Motion Graphics Design, along with the DCTI Technology group, to hash out their vision of a show that would rely on AR technology.
The team completely reimagined how Reali and the guest panelist would interact with each other during the half hour show, eventually settling on a three-dimensional studio environment that uses Mo-Sys camera tracking technology, Vizrt rendering engines, and computer animated design to deliver a one-of-a-kind game show experience.
As various other news organizations continue to incorporate AR into their own broadcasts, we may very well being seen the dawn of a new era for television. Regardless of shows overall impact, a daily 30-minute sports program that relies heavily AR technology is an impressive venture none-the-less.
Around the Horn can be found on ESPN and airs daily at 5pm EST.
Image Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua & ESPN Images / ESPN Front Row