Far from a quiet sporting year

Wednesday 10 July 2013, 11:55

Barbara Slater Barbara Slater Director, BBC Sport

The nation willed him on. The nation watched, listened and followed every nerve wracking point. It was a perfect reminder of why we love sport – the 77 year quest for a Men’s Singles Champion, the tears of disappointment at defeat last year and the knowledge that until the very last Djokovic backhand we didn’t know whether the story would have a happy ending.

Congratulations to Andy Murray - newly crowned Men's Singles Wimbledon Champion - how sweet that must sound after all the pressure and his extraordinary performance.

Sir Chris Hoy described the victory as one the greatest British sporting moments of all time. The BBC’s Sports Editor, David Bond, suggests on his blog that Murray’s triumph may surpass the likes of the Football World Cup in 1966, the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory last year. No doubt everyone will have a view on that particular debate.

It was a privilege for the BBC to once again broadcast the Wimbledon Championships. 17 million people tuned in to watch the final – the most watched programme of the year - with millions more listening on 5 live and the World Service.

It was also the BBC’s most comprehensive digital offering ever for Wimbledon – up to 10 live streams, Red Button in HD and, for the first time, over a million people accessing our services via a tablet device. 6 million browsers logged on to the BBC Sport website on Sunday to catch the action, follow the live text and see worldwide reaction through social media – while for the first time the tennis coverage was available via our smartphone app.

It is the BBC's aim to bring to the widest possible audience those sporting events that can unite the nation. In addition to Wimbledon, we have contracts in place for events such as the Olympic Games, the Six Nations Championship, Open Golf, the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Formula 1, the London Marathon, the Boat Race and the next three World Athletics Championships – plus much, much more.

Following the sensational summer of 2012, spearheaded by the London Olympic Games, many commentators were speculating that 2013 would be a quiet sporting year. It took just two events on the first weekend in July to end those fears; Andy Murray’s success coupled with the British & Irish Lions first series victory for 16 years - these two events alone will surely change the way sporting audiences reflect on 2013.

But it doesn’t end there.

Today marks the start of the latest instalment of the Ashes, one of the oldest and greatest of sporting rivalries. There is full coverage of the series on the colourful and consistent Test Match Special, plus a wide array of Ashes-themed programming on 5 live and daily Ashes ‘round-ups’ after close of play on the News Channel. You can also listen to every ball bowled via the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app.

And this evening, the Women’s European Football Championships kicks off in Sweden, with all of England's matches broadcast live on BBC TV, BBC Radio, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app.

We hope to tap into the interest in Women’s Football that came to the fore at the London Olympic Games when over 70,000 people turned up at Wembley to watch England beat Brazil. There will be 16 matches in total on BBC TV – an unprecedented commitment by a UK terrestrial broadcaster to the tournament.

Then, in just over a week, the eyes of the sporting world will shift to Muirfield in Scotland for the Open Championship.Can Justin Rose claim back-to-back ‘major’ victories and get his hands on the famous Claret Jug? Once again, BBC Sport will have all the action on TV, radio and online.

The Formula 1 season continues on the BBC with its unique mix of speed, bravery and controversy before the London Anniversary Games takes place at the end of July, followed by the World Athletics Championships from Moscow a fortnight later – potentially a double helping of the likes of Bolt, Ennis and Farah.

We know you have many choices for where to watch, listen and read about sport. So we are fortunate the British public more often than not choose the BBC. Last year, the BBC accounted for 2% of sports hours broadcast on TV but we generated over 50% of total sports viewing – a statistic that has held up over time and demonstrates what our strategy is all about: bringing the nation together. And these days it certainly isn’t just about television: we are equally proud to run the most popular sports radio station in Radio 5 live and the most popular sports website in the UK, BBC Sport.

The final game in the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final raised the bar for new levels of sporting tension and story telling. We are determined to do likewise with our commitment to delivering great action on the BBC across this the most eventful and extraordinary ‘quiet’ year of sport the UK has ever known.

Barbara Slater is Director, BBC Sport



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    Comment number 1.

    Dear Barbara
    I totally agree that the nation is currently on a crest of a wave with its sporting success and the excellent media coverage that is escalating our sporting hero's to global stars is very much deserved. The sporting success is truly inspiring and there is nothing like it for lifting a nation.

    The Olympic and Paralympics genuinely did inspire a generation a promise made by Lord Coe on capturing the games. This was made possible by the excellent coverage that enabled all individuals across the country to witness the drama unfolding and get behind our talented athletes.

    Since the games I have been extremely fearful of the hotly debated legacy and what would a successful legacy look like. I have since submitted several lots of evidence to various Government Committees raising my concerns and fears that too much political stalling and debating is putting any such legacy at risk. An over complicated sports system is not helpful when trying to build on the success of 2012 and the creation of a tangible legacy. While I genuinely believe the commitment to elite sport is working and will no doubt work leading into 2016. If we are to see a meaningful legacy for the vast majority of the country we need to get the community sport and school sport systems working effectively in parallel to increase grass roots participation.

    I look forward to the new BBC Olympic Magazine Inspire which I believe will genuinely revitilise the passion of creating the legacy that the 2012 Games deserves. I think this will give Government another opportunity to get it right and perhaps the 3 legged donkley that is the sporting landscape can be unified and we will truly have a world leading sports system. Until that happens I believe the Olympic legacy is on a life support machine and without the media attention and reality TV I am feaful for its existence.

    No doubt your producers have planned the content of the new programme Inspire and that you want it to take a very positive slant. However until we address these fundamental problems in our sports systems we will not see a genuine legacy for all.

    I would be more than happty to discuss my concerns further should you wish and I can be contacted on [Personal details removed by Moderator]



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