FOX Sports confirms it’s testing drones for live sporting events

by Gannon Burgett

posted Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 1:18 PM EDT


FOX Sports has revealed it teamed up with Feld Motor Sports and HeliVideo Productions this past Friday at a Supercross event at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to take a look at the possibility of using live camera drones for future events.

HeliVideo Productions, the team responsible for operating the drones, flew three separate drones around Lucas Oil Stadium as five Monster Energy AMA Supercross riders slung their bikes around the track. Even though the testing lasted only an hour, all parties involved seem confident about the possibility of using drones at future events.

Brad Cheney, Director of Technical Operations for FOX Sports said:

’We proved today that drones are not only going to be an enhancement in our production toolkit, but they are poised and ready to move into the spotlight of total event production […] The capabilities we saw today will open up new and more compelling images of the event with little to no impact on the in-stadium experience.’

Eric Shanks, FOX Sports President, COO & Executive Producer echoed the confidence and ensured they intend to test live camera drones with other sporting events, saying ‘We’re thrilled with what we learned from this live-event simulation, and we are excited to see where it takes us next.’

One of the three drones used for testing this past Friday at a Supercross event in Lucas Oil Stadium | via FOX Sports

We don’t know for sure what each drone was or what camera/broadcasting gear it was carrying, but the above image from FOX Sports shows what we believe to be a DJI Spreading Wings S900 and Zenmuse Z15-GH4 (HD) gimbal, which is holding the 4K-capable Panasonic GH4.

The gear used is likely to change from one event to the next, to best suit the environment, but there are a handful of exciting possibilities capable thanks in part to DJI’s considerably customizable platform. Furthermore, it’d be interesting to see if something evolves from DJI joining the Micro Four Thirds Consortium.

Another possibility for FOX Sports and other multimedia entities is Olympus’ Open Platform Camera, which allows for an extreme amount of customization in a small, efficient form factor.

Regardless of what comes of FOX Sport’s trial run, it’s safe to say they’re not the only one testing the possibility of using drones for televising live events. Watching sports might be far different ten years from now.

Image credits: Photo courtesy of FOX Sports