This article by Owen Gibson is a good read, not only analysing the potential decline in live viewing figures for football but also the way viewing habits for sport are changing. It touches on the issue of piracy – people watching live via illegal websites – and includes a strong defence from Sky.
You would have thought Leicester’s amazing triumph would have created a surge of interest in the game. But perhaps not and, if ratings do genuinely tumble, those holding the rights may well spontaneously combust.
I’ve only ever worked outside the Sport genre. We entertainment types find the whole thing a bit macho and I’ve never been fond of the smell of stale sweat. So I am taking my softie life in my own hands when I declare that I find TV football productions to be really unimaginative.Beyond the game itself, creative production techniques are not developing fast enough to surprise and entertain jaded viewers.
It can’t be helped if the game is dull; there have been some terrible games in recent seasons and your average producer can’t do much about that. But they can produce the commentaries. These are often uninspired, frequently dissolving into chats about anything other than events on the pitch. There are also instances where the commentators are so busy talking about some player’s past, or the colour of his hair, that they miss a key moment of action.
Then we have expert chat delivered in the predictably dreary suit and tie method from a small, hot pod in the rafters of the Tunnock’s Arena. There is nothing quite as dull as watching three men in tight suits aimlessly banter about a penalty decision. We’ve seen this sort of thing for years and, even though Thierry’s quite charming, it’s all a bit old now. In terms of live punterdom, the best they seem to have come up with is to have their experts standing by a dinky plinth at the edge of the pitch. I’ve seen Graeme Souness stare at one of these things as if he’s about to headbutt it.
Yes, despite all the money and hoohah, sports production is very often just terribly naff. It lacks wit or surprise. I think we now expect more from the producers, especially when their work is hyped to the rafters by the promotions teams. What tricks can they come up with to genuinely surprise their viewers? We shall be watching (or maybe not).