ShowtimeCam photo courtesy of the AP.

Leave it to Deeplocal to come up with an innovative way to connect fans to the football games and players they adore.

In this new age of stadiums with few or no fans in the seats, the creative technology and experience design agency has teamed up with the NFL and Twitter to create an interactive remote experience between players on the field and select fans at home.

It’s one way to celebrate big moments in the game, bringing the fans into the action.

The Bud Light #ShowtimeCam was featured at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field for the prime time game on Sunday when the Seahawks played the New England Patriots. It will be featured throughout the football season and there’s a “good chance” that the Steelers will use it, says a DeepLocal spokesperson.

Deeplocal, which self-described “hacktivist” Nathan Martin founded in 2006, led engineering, software development, and on-site production efforts for the two-way display.

While a version of the #ShowtimeCam debuted at the 2019 Pro Bowl, Deeplocal refined it for 2020 to adhere to all NFL guidelines with custom colored and branded padding as well as floor- and wall-mounted options. Their version features various content modes, including selected tweets, fans on the screen, custom graphics, and personalized videos. In addition, fans can view the game feed from the POV of the camera, and the software allows DeepLocal to remotely push updates and control the unit during the game.

“Everyone is just trying to figure out the new reality going forward,” Deeplocal Account Manager Meg Patten says. “I think [the Bud Light #ShowtimeCam] is a terrific opportunity for players to interact with fans and to bring the joy of football to fans in a new and innovative way.”

Four hours before kickoff, the #ShowtimeCam begins display sequences of Tweets representing both teams playing. Patten says. It is active during the game, including TV breaks and time-outs and, of course, when there’s a celebration to be had. Then, players can approach the screen to celebrate with fans, and fans can shout and Tweet out praise to their favorite athletes.

Interacting with the #ShowtimeCam. Image courtesy of Deeplocal.

Oscar Prom, a Shaler native who is Deeplocal’s director of software, says the remote experiential design is in line with the ethos of the firm, which gained attention a decade ago by deploying chalk drawing robots during a Nike campaign at the Tour de France.

“What I think makes this special is we’re looking for a way to engage a younger audience for a fan base that’s typically middle-aged,” Prom says. “It’s definitely a unique experience, similar to being in first-row seats.”

The fans are dialed into the unit via Microsoft Teams; each home team has a hand in selecting who does and does not appear on the feed, Patten says. The unit is built to specifications of the NFL’s Clegg Impact Hammer, which measures the strength of hits and shock absorption on the field.

It’s also built with a highly flexible CMS, or content management system, that Deeplocal created and dubbed Gumband, Prom says. Gumband updates the video and content in real-time, without human hands.

Jonathan Kersting, vp for communications and media at the Pittsburgh Technology Council, is not the least surprised by Deeplocal’s latest venture. Martin was named a Tech50 winner by the Pittsburgh Technology Council about a decade ago.

“We just think the world of Nathan — he’s done so much to raise the visibility of Pittsburgh around the world,” Kersting tells NEXTpittsburgh. “Deeplocal is one of the pioneers. They were doing the ‘making’ stuff before people were really into that.”

Kersting says he heard pretty early on about the #ShowtimeCam and its potential for success with the NFL in the midst of the pandemic.

“I was reading up on it and I said, ‘Here he goes again,’” Kersting laughs. “Leave it to them to connect people in times like this. I wouldn’t really expect anything less from Nathan and his team at the end of the day.”

Justin Vellucci

A former news reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, Justin Vellucci currently freelances for a number of Pittsburgh publications and works as a staff writer for the music...