Fox Sports has made history by deploying drones over a live indoor college basketball game for the first time ever. The Big East Tournament coverage at Madison Square Garden last week included two immersive drones that provided mobile overhead camera views rare to the sport.
Beverly Hills Aerials, a drone cinema company, owned and operated the two drones at the Garden, which included a Gimbal and a racing drone. During the tournament, the network was admittedly conservative due to safety protocols and a vow not to fly over the court during play, but Fox expects drones to become a basketball staple in the future.
Fox Sports is known for its fascination with drones and has previously used them during its signature NASCAR coverage, where unmanned cameras were more unfettered and daring because they had more room.
During NASCAR telecasts such as the Daytona 500, the Clash and Talladega, Beverly Hills Aerials deploys an FPV (First Person View) racing drone that travels upwards of 100 mph to keep up with the race cars and is flown by pilots wearing VR goggles. In the case of Fox’s upcoming coverage of the USFL, a fledgling football league that embraces risk, the network will position drones directly behind kick returners to deliver unprecedented footage of the runbacks.
Fox has used drones directly behind safeties in the secondary and hasn't swooped in too far to become a 12th defensive player. A similar drone activation at Fox’s coverage of MLB’s Field of Dreams game went glowingly, while ESPN unveiled its own drone during last November’s outdoor Michigan State-Gonzaga basketball game on the USS Abraham Lincoln battleship.
Fox's integration of drones into its broadcast shows its determination to innovate and capture unique views of sporting events. By using drones, the network has the potential to give audiences unparalleled views and experiences of sporting events that were previously not possible.