The National Football League (NFL) has agreed a new partnership with video technology specialist Hawk-Eye for internal officiating reviews during the upcoming 2021 season.
The league will incorporate Hawk-Eye’s Synchronised Multi-Angle Replay Technology (Smart) system to get access live video feeds from its broadcast partners, processing live plays from all angles in real time. Hawk-eye will provide several angles of a single play, which will all be synced into a live video feed.
The NFL will use Hawk-Eye’s Synchronized Multi-Angle Replay Technology (SMART) to get control of live video feeds from broadcast partners. All of those feeds can be synced together with time stamps to provide multiple angles of the same play at the exact same time. (TV partners have done something similar for viewers over the years, but not this precise or this quickly after the play.)
On average, each review held up the games for two minutes and 18 seconds in the 2020 season. According to NFL Network, the deal has been struck to address this by making replays as quick as possible and will not become an additional part of the game broadcast.
Of the 40,032 plays in the 2020 season, only 364 were reviewed. That’s slightly lower than the league’s 10-year average of 400 plays reviewed since 2011.
Interestingly, the NFL saw its highest reversal rate ever in 2020. Never before had the league seen half of its reviewed plays overturned, and going into 2020 only 38.6% of all reviews had been overturned since 1999. But in 2020, 54% of all reviews were reversed, representing an increase of 7 percentage points from the previous season.
Hawk-Eye is a leader in the sports technology field. It has been used for goal-line tech in international soccer, pit-lane officiating in NASCAR, and it’s perhaps best-known for its optical tracking system that enables electronic line calling in tennis.