• Sky Sports and BT Sport to use recorded crowd sounds for Premier League broadcasts 
  • Games to be played behind closed doors after coronavirus interrupted the 2019/20 season 
  • BT Sports continues with 4K HDR while Sky unveils new highlights function 

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Interactive: Football returns with new innovations to bring fans together

UK broadcasters have unveiled new plans to boost interactivity and simulate the impact of a crowd for live coverage of Premier League games when they return later this month.

The UK’s premier football tournament is due to return on 17 June after games were postponed due the coronavirus, but the rest of the Premier League season will be played behind closed doors, with all games to be broadcast by Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC and Amazon Prime Video. 

In order to replicate the “vibrant atmosphere of Premier League clashes” Sky said it is working with Fifa video games maker EA Sports to create simulated chants and crowd noises designed for specific teams. 

Viewers will be given the option to watch games with the sound switched on or off across Sky Sports’ remaining 64 games, 25 of which will be made available for free. 

The Comcast-owned broadcaster also unveiled other key innovations, including a recap function that allows viewers to catch up on all the key highlights during live matches in a short burst. Each game will have a live timeline enabling viewers to catch up on the highlights at any point during the match – even if they have not watched it from the beginning. 

Sky Sports managing director Rob Webster said: “With live sport on hold for over two months, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we broadcast in new ways to bring fans together, even if they can’t meet up to watch the match. 

“Sky has always been a leader in innovative sports broadcasting, and we’re excited by this opportunity to share something really special with the whole nation. We want Sky Sports viewers to still feel it all and have the best possible viewing experience – even if they can’t be in the stadiums or watch with their family and friends.” 

BT Sport, which will air 20 Premier League games, will kick-off coverage with Watford v Leicester City and Brighton v Arsenal on 20 June. 

Innovations from BT Sport includes the use of optional pre-recorded dynamic crowd noise, which can be activated using the Red Button. 

BT Sport will continue to air games in 4K HDR through the BT Sport App, an innovation it launched for the 2019/20 season. 

The British telco also revealed plans to launch a new ‘Watch Together’ social tool which enables viewers to watch games on the BT Sport App with friends using split screen technology. 

Simon Green, head of BT Sport said “We are pleased that the Premier League resumption will give viewers a packed schedule of live football in June as the sport makes its return. With every fixture from the Bundesliga, twenty Premier League games and the return of the FA Cup, BT Sport viewers will be in for a football packed summer.  We are looking forward to broadcasting live domestic football again and bringing some new innovations to our customers to give them the best viewing experience possible.”