Emerging Tech, Data & Media

Southampton install pitchside AR advertising boards

New ADI signage allows club to sell TV ad inventory in multiple territories.

by Tom Bassam

Southampton install pitchside AR advertising boards

English top-flight soccer club Southampton have agreed a deal with stadium technology specialists, ADI, to install a new virtual hybrid perimeter LED display at St Mary’s Stadium.

The system integrates augmented reality (AR) technology that makes it possible to change the perimeter content seen by different TV viewing audiences around the world. It means fans in the stadium will see traditional LED content, whilst viewers watching the same match in different countries could see brand content tailored to their region.

Developed by ADI, together with AR experts Supponor, the 960mm high Uefa compliant system was installed in September.

AR technology makes it possible to commercialise the same perimeter media space multiple times over, limited only by the inventory sold in different territories.

Southampton commercial director, David Thomas, said: “Following a competitive selection process we chose ADI because of the functionality and quality of their technology. The market is clearly heading towards the adoption of virtual advertising, and there is definitely demand from sponsors. The ability to combine that functionality with a system that is Uefa compliant is extremely appealing to us.”

The perimeter system installed at St Mary’s Stadium uses the same LED technology deployed in Germany’s Bundesliga, which has been delivering virtually modified match feeds since the start of the 2018/19 season.  In the UK, ten clubs having now invested in similar systems or have the ability to be easily upgraded.

The perimeter display content, and any potential virtual ad insertion, will be remotely managed by a team at ADI’s fibre connected production hub, which connects over 100 stadia and broadcasters.

ADI’s chief executive, Geraint Williams, added: “We’ve worked with Southampton for a number of years and they’ve always displayed huge ambition.

“We’re entering a new era in the way clubs activate commercial partnerships. Sponsors are demanding greater value and more opportunities to reach their audiences, and virtual advertising certainly offers a platform through which to achieve that.”