Announcing your astonishment at the advancement of technology can leave you sounding like an old fart. When I watched Grimsby Town score their seventh goal against Halifax last Tuesday I was gushing with praise – not just for the goalscorer, Padraig Amond (his fourth of a productive night), but also for the technology that allowed me to witness it, first hand, so to speak, from my hotel room in Venice.
For the last few years I’ve been working for Bloom, a digital agency in Leeds, where social technology has been central in the majority of marketing campaigns we’ve worked on. But one of the social channels that remains relatively untouched by brands, despite it being around for more than 18 months, is Periscope. Earlier this year I blogged about it on the agency’s website to consider its reach and potential, particularly in the sporting arena.
For it was Periscope (and the hotel’s wifi connection) that allowed me to watch Amond’s goal, live, as it happened – along with a fellow Town fan and Periscope user by the name of Mighty Mariner. Up until that point I’d been listening to the Radio Humberside commentary through the TuneIn app, and it was while I was scanning my way through my Twitter feed that I noticed Mighty Mariner was broadcasting live from Blundell Park.
Such is the way that the app works, you’re totally dependent on the other person. You see what they see. And like anything digital, there’s always going to be something of a delay involved. It’s difficult to know how much of a delay there is on Periscope, but this particular broadcast allowed me to see the action sooner than the radio commentary could describe it.
As a viewer, you can let the broadcaster know whether you like what you see by tapping the screen. This sends them hearts that float up the side of the screen – a sort of visual approval or appreciation. If you want, you can even type out messages for them to read, and they can respond verbally as they’re recording.
The Mariners were 6-0 up at the point when I decided to dip into Mighty Mariner’s Periscope broadcast. I was only watching a matter of seconds before Scott Brown poked the ball through for Amond, who lofted the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net for the seventh goal. I was able to enjoy the moment again, on the radio, about 20 seconds later.
If that was surreal, then my Venetian surroundings made it even more so.
I’d spent the day walking round the city. In the afternoon my wife and I took a boat trip out to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcelli. I was still full from the calamari and grilled sea bass we’d eaten at a very nice local restaurant. But, despite being on holiday, like any lifelong Town fan I was aware that we had an evening game against Halifax, and being an hour ahead of the UK made it possible for us to be back in the hotel in time to listen to the majority of the action.
The threat Periscope poses for official broadcasters is obvious, since it’s now possible for anyone with a smartphone and the Periscope app to let others in on the action from within the stadium – albeit with obvious limitations. Smartphones aren’t as smart as 26 Sky Sports or BT Sport cameras with slo-mo replays. But if you’re after a sense of the action, and a sense of the atmosphere, then Periscope does a good job.
Once upon a time you’d go on holiday and accept that you wouldn’t hear a peep about the Mariners’ fortunes until you got back. Today it’s entirely possible to go to Venice – or Venezuela – and see the action, just as the supporters see it.