OK, the KISS Super League has had a few weeks to bed in now. It has had some teething problems in terms of sound sync, riders apparently having no idea what to do in a Zwift race, or just not bothering (Cofidis, I’m looking at you).
Overall it has been pretty good fun to watch, but the actual race coverage needs work.
In fact, I think in some way it has got worse. This week and last week for example, there were multiple times when the stream cut away from the action. Why? I think Nathan and Greg Leo are great, don’t get me wrong, but I came to watch a race. Not some talking heads.
This week was marginally better than last week because at least the racing got added (eventually) as a small PIP window. However, when watching in a window or on a phone, this leaves the racing itself hard to make out.
Leave the racing full screen and put the pundit in the PIP window. Or better still, just give us the audio.
Zwift Community Live do it better:
Given that’s an established format that works well, I don’t understand how Zwift’s official KSL production could screw this up.
Also, whoever is directing the stream needs to keep on top of the action. Last night we watched someone get swarmed very close to the finish. And the coverage lingered on that, meaning we missed the actual finish at the head of the race. This is inexcusable. We missed the start too, albeit by a matter of seconds.
At the least, there should be multiple Zwift accounts logged in and following different riders along with static cameras at fixed positions. It should be trivial to cut between feeds instantly, rather than relying on one person scrolling or clicking through the “Riders nearby” list. Cue it up off-stream, then cut to the appropriate camera.
It seems to me that’s something that should be pretty straightforward and obvious, despite me having no background in live sporting production. I know, armchair experts. But come on, you’ve $120m of new money to spend!
Maybe there are technical limitations. But really, I’ve seen loads of Twitch streams do this stuff really well so I don’t think there are.
The Method (WoW guild) Twitch stream is an example.
As you can see from the video, the real action is on the main screen. The player is in an overlay in the corner (pretty much standard with streamers). The commentators/pundits are a voiceover, and that’s more than enough. The cuts between POVs are seamless (e.g. Gingi to Deepshades to Narcolies). Yes, it does cut back to the studio (they’re actually all in the same place), but that’s during downtime following a wipe; not in the middle of the fight.
Also, I’d say get shot of the standard UI. Build something designed for race coverage. We don’t need the ever-churning “Riders nearby” list I feel. We do need to get an idea of who’s in the group, and the gaps between groups, but those lists could be maybe less dynamic or presented in a different format. I’d still want to know when someone’s lighting it up at 15wkg for example!
Even better, provide a spectator client. i.e. not the full game, but a client we can use to “join” an event purely as a spectator, with a bunch of lovely tools to enable us to cover the action.
For example, let me put Bibby on F1, Kim Little on F2, Swift on F3 etc. so I can switch between people I am interested in trivially. That would also help the broadcast stream coverage of course.
I’m still really enjoying the Super League, but the coverage could be so much better, and that would make it all even more enjoyable.
That said: early days, I understand that.