Sports Viewing Is In Need Of A Shake-Up!

It can easily be argued by many that we get too much sport on the tele-box these days but then the sports fanatics amongst us, would argue that, some sports don’t get a fair representation on television, for one reason or another.

Where do you stand?

Here are my views and opinions…

As sad as it is and it will always be the case, sports will prominently feature on pay-per-view and advert orientated television based on the financial impact it can have for those said channels towards its viewing audience.

The only exceptions to these rules are when channels remain loyal yet stubborn to their programming schedule whilst moving other key sports events to the infamous ‘red button’, this happened recently with Real Madrid versus Barcelona losing out to Andy Gray’s final word.

Enough said.

Free to air channels will obviously use viewing figures coupled with the pre-event interest or demand an event offers and they will also stick their necks on the line for events which has cost them a large proportion of their sporting budget, we just cannot shy away from the facts.

So, at this moment in time, with the football World Cup dominating the mainstream of terrestrial television, it leaves many wondering; Are their sports getting a fair crack of the wipe on Sky, ESPN etc?

When you take a look at the popular website, http://www.livesportontv.com/, it shows up a couple of major arguments for fans or sports deemed to be lower down the pecking order, sports like, Rugby League, Tennis and to some extent Cricket.

Lack of viewing time during a period when these sports are prominent to the summer season and no obvious end to the plight of these sports and their millions of fans.

Why is this?

It can easily be argued that during the football World Cup, everyone who is anyone will be viewing the football, especially when England are playing, yet according to http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/ an average of 17.65 million watched England versus U.S.A. with a high of 19.41 million (69.8% viewing share)

This coupled with an average viewing figure of 13.16 million people watching the live games between 6.15pm and 9.45pm, shows that football really isn’t the be all and end all of sport, but money talks.

This obviously leaves a country with a reasonable percentage of the viewing audiences not watching the world cup (I am not one of them) and a large proportion of the population (approx half of the U.K.) not actually watching television for a list of reasons which can go on forever; holidays, work commitments, social occasions etc…

As an example to this, I will take the sport of Rugby League, a sport I am an admirer of yet I wouldn’t describe myself as a fanatic. It is a sport which has an extraordinary following especially in Yorkshire and Lancashire but it is spreading far and wide.

Yet, in the final half of this month only 6 live fixtures will be shown in Great Britain and Northern Ireland out of a possible 38 competitive fixtures being played during that period in the English domestic leagues and cups, this is less than 16%.

This is shocking. Rugby League is a summer sport played mainly between April and September yet the sports channels deem it more appropriate, viewer demanding and commercially viable to screen repeats, live greyhound racing, wrestling and the occasion non-major golf tournament.

This cannot continue, or youngsters will not want to participate in sports that are not a key focus of the school curriculum and this will only endeavour to damage the grass-roots of sports like Rugby League and with this in mind the long-term prospects of such sports in the U.K. looks bleak, very bleak indeed.

Though, it needs to be said, thanks to my twitter Rugby League friend, https://twitter.com/sasparelda, that the sport doesn’t always help itself and allows for blatant mistakes to go unnoticed from the written press and various websites.

Coupled with poor event organisation, let ‘Magic Weekend’ on a cold bank holiday weekend in May up in Edinburgh be my example here, whilst always appearing to clash with more high-profile sports when announcing squads, clearly does not help any sport gain publicity and improve its’ image (England Rugby League squad announced on same day as England football squad announced).

This vicious circle will always hamper sport and those deemed to be minority sports will suffer the greatest impact from mishaps like these as it easily discourages many fair weather fans.

So I can’t just have my say and have a dig at the media corporations who show and fund many of our favourite sports without offering so kind of solution.

What would you do? I have some suggestions but they are simply that, so feel free to elaborate on them.

  1. When signing contracts all sports need to cover their backs more, agreeing to a number of games only works for major sports like football, sad but true, so other sports may need to agree to a percentage of air time.
  2. Channels need to be better regulated; it seems pointless having major events on the ‘red button’ when sky clearly know that several other network’s paying customers cannot actively subscribe to this.
  3. The BBC & ITV should in my opinion have a dedicated sports television channel. Considering the amount of time and money spent on ITV4 or BBC4, is this really a bad idea?
  4. More pay-per-view fixtures should be made available in sports such as Rugby League, these do not need to be expensive and if the demand proves popular then it maybe a regular theme.
  5. The sports themselves need to look into the possibility of having a dedicated channel for their sports, which can be run in partnership with a major network provider.

As I say these are merely ideas I am suggesting, but I shall leave you with one final thought. In an era where money is key, I find it worrying that major corporations including  BBC are planning to marketing budgets by approximately 25%.

The future isn’t bright for many sports, are we just prepared to take this?

People need to stand up and be counted now or forever hold their peace.

Which one are you?

Or should we just give up and just play virtual sports via our nintendo wii’s?

Cheers for reading as always.

Gaffers

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2 Responses to “Sports Viewing Is In Need Of A Shake-Up!”

  1. Mo Bamba Says:

    I am starting to enjoy rugby, but cricket !!!!! hellooooo

    • gafferssportsblog Says:

      Thanks Mo,

      Glad you are beginning to enjoy Rugby and France are building a strong team for the World Cup but I will endeavour to get you into cricket at some point, you need to understand the rules, plus visiting a game always helps.

      Cheers as always, Gaffers

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