Caley Thistle is transforming its streaming service to ensure supporters don’t miss a kick of the ball from their sofas next season.
Opting for remote, or Pixellot, cameras during the pandemic – with fans unable to attend – didn’t pay off for the Championship club with quality issues drawing criticism from supporters.
Chief executive officer Scot Gardiner has revealed that a radical overhaul of the club’s entire database to link supporters up to the action was swiftly put into operation.
Changing camera systems midway through the year wasn’t a viable option, but Gardiner, who is busy hunting down a head coach, insisted fans will get the service they deserve next term.
Speaking on the latest Wyness Shuffle podcast, he said: “We will be investing and launching properly a new ICT TV on HD cameras from the other side of the stadium, with cameras behind both goals, with replays and slow motion.
“We will have co-commentators sitting together with special guests and ex-players. We are doing that next season. It will be unrecognisable.
“Nothing will come from Pixellot. It will all be our own footage.”
ICT made the headlines when the artificial intelligence (IA) cameras covering their match against Ayr United in Inverness followed the bald assistant referee in the sunshine. The official’s (John McCrossan’s) head was mistaken for the football.
Gardiner explained that advice and assurances didn’t match with reality, which was outwith the club’s control.
He explained: “We were assured that the streaming would be only for two or three games, given the knowledge at the time. We were assured in December we would not have streaming.
“We then took a pragmatic decision and decided to go with Pixellot, which we were told was HD (high definition).
“There were multiple evidential videos to show you how good this was and how well it worked. The AI (artificial intelligence) was now fabulous.
“Our main argument at the time was that it was at the wrong side of the stand. We were told it needed a permanent structure, so we said we’d build one over the other side, but no it had to be where it was.
“We put that up in all good faith, thinking this was going to be great.”
Risk of losing hundreds of online fans
The quality was lacking, but the mechanics of contacting fans, many of whose email addresses the club didn’t have or had to update, meant there was no chance of a late switch.
The Caley Jags chief explained: “We were at different tipping points throughout the season.
“Would we invest in new cameras and new systems then we’d need to get back to everyone and get them all logged in again?
“Kristine, at the club, had many long days speaking to people who were not IT-savvy to get them all logged in.
“Around 800-900 season ticket holders were logging in and we’d have had to pull all of that and ask people to register differently. We thought we’d lose 200-400, which is a big percentage.
“Ultimately, in the long run, we didn’t get it right. We are doing a massive U-turn on that.”
Turnstiles will also click
As well as the new ICTFC streaming output, the club hopes to get all season ticket holders accommodated back inside the Caledonian Stadium when safe to do so.
Gardiner added: “We have been crunching numbers for how many fans we can get in, be it with a one or two-metre distance.
“It looks positive at the moment that all our season ticket holders will get in next season.
“If the only way is we utilise every nook and cranny to get everybody in, then that’s what we will do.”