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Thoughts on audiences for Olympic sports

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Roger Mosey | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

In the week that our colleagues in BBC Sport are providing extensive live coverage of the World Track Cycling Championships in Denmark, I've been thinking about one of the big tasks for London 2012: whether we can significantly improve the level of interest in the UK in Olympic sports.

This isn't so much about participation, important though that is and the topic that prompted interesting comments from some of you in response to a recent blog. It's more about whether the sports become bigger in media terms with audiences developing a continuing interest in them - or whether they have their moment in the sun in 2012 and then drift back into the shadows under that rather clichéd title of "minority sports".

What's beyond dispute is that the Olympic Games themselves bring unprecedented audiences to sports. We know that during Beijing a staggering total of 47m people watched some of the BBC coverage; but it's difficult to use the individual event data as a predictor for London because of the time zones. Swimming from China, for instance, meant finals in the early hours UK time. So I had a look at Athens as the most recent Summer Games in Europe, and the table of peak viewing makes interesting reading:

Audience data from Athens 2004Audience data from the Athens Olympics in 2004

I should say that audience data is open to argument. It's not a level playing field because some sports took place entirely in the daytime; and some clashed with each other, splitting the ratings figures. Boxing was relatively high in 2004 because of the emergence of Amir Khan, whereas I'd expect tennis to zoom up the chart in London if Andy Murray's involved and because of the Wimbledon factor. (There's also, I detect, a keen interest in beach volleyball coming to town - even if not all the motivation is 100% sporting!)

But it's safe to draw some conclusions from this and other research. First, athletics is almost always the biggest draw and the most-anticipated event. Second, though, almost every Olympic sport can draw an audience into the millions - and I'm confident in 2012 they'll do that even more than usual. But third: levels of interest can disappear as quickly as they rise. Some really attractive national or international moments in Olympic sports have drawn disappointing figures either side of the Games themselves.

So the question is whether those audiences will be there before or after the 17 days of the London Olympics. The BBC recently appointed an Olympic Sports Editor to try to ensure that we give the best possible range of coverage between now and 2012 across tv, radio and online; and I know BBC Sport will apply themselves with their customary vim to World Championships and major events where we have the rights. But it's a question where I'd like to hear your views.

What sports do you think are ripe for development? What could you imagine still being strong on our range of services in 2013 and beyond? And which ones most need explanation and clarification to ensure that audiences get the best out of them in 2012?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Athletics (always), Swimming and Cycling (Track and Road) bwill be the biggest for the dometic audience. The Mens road race could also be the biggest event bar none with 3-4million people watching live on the road.

    The biggest wordwide behind ahtletics is always the Basketball and this will be one of the best events for sport loving Brits to "get into" in London. Every team competing will be quite exceptional, they will all have great ex pat support in London to ensure great atmosphere and the GB team will be half decent as well.

    Sailing will be fantastic visually down at Weymouth and we are relying on the Beeb to do it justice with the pictures. If you can imagine that it will become an umissable daily soap opera

    Other sleepers. Mens Hockey (cos we have a decent chance and we understand the sport) and the open water swimming at the Serpentine which will be amazing to watch and again we should have great medal shouts.

    Not sure abt the football. Olympic football is a nonsense really and third rate compared with the sports great showpiece events. But it is football in our great stadia and presumably the tickets will be fairly easy to get. If the crowds build it could come over well on TV

    The Tennis tournament will get a serious upgrade by being held at Wimbledon and if AM can get stuck in but will still be strange so soon after Wimbledon fortnight itself.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hockey is there as the third most popular (viewed) sport and yet, the BBC appear to show little or no interest in securing the rights for the major tournaments. England Men are the current European Champions and recently finised a strong 4th in the World Cup. England Women finished 3rd in the Euros and will have a good chance at the World Cup in September...

    I think that there is a really good chance for both Great Britain's Men and Women for medals in 2012 and should this be the case, the BBC should be capitalising on the increased interest...

  • Comment number 3.

    Given that these figures show that hockey is the third most viewed sport after athletics and boxing, why does it not get more widespread coverage on the BBC? I'm by no means saying gymnastics, rowing, cycling, swimming, badminton and equestrian should get less coverage but why do all these get coverage on BBC 1 & 2 outside of the Olympics when the England matches at the recent Hockey World Cup in Delhi (where England reached a semi final and placed fourth) was only available on the red button?

    I'd love to see a wider variety of sports shown on the BBC and I think these figures show that hockey is possibly the sport where the figures for demand and the supply on the BBC are the most incongruous.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi, Firstly in terms of things that I personally will take a keen interest and try and watch in the flesh its going to be the Hockey, Velodrome cycling and the white water kayaking.

    Secondly this comment intrigues me - "It's more about whether the sports become bigger in media terms with audiences developing a continuing interest in them - or whether they have their moment in the sun in 2012 and then drift back into the shadows under that rather clichéd title of "minority sports"."

    With all due respect to broadcasters in this country whether its more than a flash in the pan is entirely up to you. I have not seen many of the Olympic events on the TV since 2008. In fact the only "minority sport" i can remember seeing is the hockey at these recent world championships. These sports wont get the media following if there is no media to follow and the reality is that in this country the majority of that comes from the BBC.

  • Comment number 5.

    Obviously a lot of sports will disappear after the games because there is no domestic product to follow up on. In a lot of the sports with little heritage in the UK and few professionals coverage will be minimal. There is no coverage of handball in the UK because no one knows the sport here.

    In any case it is worth remembering that BBC Sport does not cover as great a variety of sports nowadays. When Grandstand occupied all of Saturday you might get a highlights package of the British Table Tennis Championships, or the All England Badminton Championships. Now there is no sports magazine programme the BBC will only show sports that justify a programme in their own right so now the Six Nations gets 7 hours of coverage all to itself.

    Sky and other channels are now picking up coverage of some of the 'minority' sports. Sky recently had extensive coverage of the All England Badminton so not a mention of it on the BBC.

  • Comment number 6.

    Sadly both tennis and football will be big draws if Murray and a cobbled together 'British' football team are there to compete, though neither sport deserves nor especially needs the Olympics.

    I've no doubt that cycling will be up there for tv audiences with the stength of our squads, this may also help swimming/diving and even hockey and the gymnastics, afterall nothing gets the punters in like a local exceeding expectations, even archery may get an extra million or two, simply because of the setting, Lords.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think you need to distinguish quite clearly between watching sport and participating in it.

    To watch something, you need a good product. At the moment, you'll find that in the UK for football, tennis, cycling, athletics and possibly swimming in the Olympic family. That's in total contrast to some other countries in Europe, where handball, basketball and wolleyball are enormous.

    Getting into watching something comes from two sources: doing it with your parents and/or playing the game at school or locally growing up.

    Now I am of the strong opinion that the main legacy focus of the Olympics should NOT focus on building media audiences. It should focus on PARTICIPATION, from which audiences may emerge. I expect obesity and depression to increase markedly if the aim is to create more couch potatoes. And I'm sure Lord Coe will be supremely proud to report that to Jacque Rogge in 2025, won't he????

    There are consequences to that for the media. If your audience is predominantly those who play the game and understand it, you don't need to be dumbed down. If you are chasing channel hoppers, you turn it into a sporting kind of psychiatrist's couch. There are societal consequences of that, most of which are unhealthy.......

    The media must learn that their obsession with their role in society is inducing mass illness, neurosis and hysteria. We all know it, but most will not say it. Anyone who has seen the dumbing down of America and addiction to formulaic sport, chat shows, S+M emotional confrontation shows etc etc will know what I am talking about.

    If the media want to build sustainable figures, they must build sustainable participation. And that will occur gradually as you build participation from the age of 7 through a 12 year educational cycle. If you truly had a world-leading way to help children to find the sports they are best suited to and a good referral system to support them in participating in those sports, then you could do it. And the legacy of that, to whom it might fall to implement, would be akin to Harold Wilson's legacy of the Open Uni...........

    Finally, the media must learn that 'less is more' in terms of the amounts of meets/tournaments broadcast. More time out playing, some time spent watching.

    Is that a threat too far or a nudge toward enlightenment??

  • Comment number 8.

    I would really like to see some proper coverage given to the hockey at the next olympics as several people have already said here. The figures show that its popular viewing, it is played widely by both sexes across the country, and both our men and women have a strong chance of a medal. The fact that England made it to the semifinal for the first time in 24 years in the mens world cup a couple of weeks back seemed to go relatively unnoticed

  • Comment number 9.

    One of the more interesting things to look at would be how these figures are impacted by things like interactive and web streams which allow more sports to be shown live rather than as highlights later.

    This technology is far more advanced now than it was for Athens and I'd expect it to have quite a significant impact on the viewing figures for some of the smaller sports.

    It would be good if this technology could be used more outside the olympics to allow more coverage of sports which don't warrent coverage on the main TV channels.

  • Comment number 10.

    I can't really speak for other sports, but as Cycling being my main sport, i feel like i should comment on it a little bit.

    Firstly, track cycling, we're good at it, and the BBC does a great job at the world championships and Manchester round of the world cup. However there could be slightly more coverage. Why not do a hour and a half highlights of each round of the world cup, there's not as much british interest, but the racing is still good. There's also things like Revolution in the velodrome in Manchester, channel 4 covered it once, and it was good to experience the new British talent. Again, just highlights would suffice.

    Now, Road Cycling, you don't have alot to play with in Britain, with ITV4 taking up the Tour of Britain and Tour Series, but there are plently of races that you could look at. I'm sure there are some races the organisers want on TV that they'd give away rights reasonably cheaply. But you'd know a lot more about that than I will.

    Now, general Olympic sports, ever thought of an Olympic Sports roundup? Couple of hours monthly showcasing all the Olympic sports (fairly, no one sport getting more air time than others). It could help raise the profile of some sports, whilst also highlighting British talent to look for in 2012. As we approach the games, i'm sure the BBC will do the right thing and look at getting those sports who often don't get much air time, a little bit more air time. It's a once in a life time thing people, let's not forget it!

  • Comment number 11.

    Like previous posts I am slightly perplexed at the lack of coverage for hockey and in particular the recent world cup. I remember really getting into hockey watching the 1986 world cup on the BBC and then we won the olympic gold and then nothing. It simply disappeared from our screens never to be seen again. It was like some shamed child that had been banished to their bedroom for eternity. Hockey should be much bigger in this country than it is!!!

    I'm concerned that we will not be able to fill the stadiums for events like handball (and waterpolo) which doesn't have any base to speak of in the UK. And because the media has no interest in promoting it and educating people - as well as it being a victim of the gigantism - I fear it could be squeezed out totally and fall victim to emptystadiumitis.

    I fear volleyball stuck out in Earls court could go the same way (though I think some of the matches will be very popular).

    Personally I plan to watch as much as I can. I don't care if it's the heats or prelims I'm going to be there! It'll be the only opportunity I get of experiencing the olympics in my own country. Bring it on!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for some really interesting comments again. All noted, including the support for hockey.

    A couple of specifics... Carior in #4: I don't agree that the fate of minority sports is entirely up to us. It's partly about what audiences choose to watch, and we tried some events during my time as director of sport that unfortunately just weren't strong enough for network TV outside an Olympics. If we call that wrong, of course, our competitors can move in and show those events; so I don't think it's any longer the case that it's the BBC or nothing.

    But we are, of course, using new technology - as Chris says in #9 - to increase the amount of choice we offer; and this website plus our red button services means we're delivering more sport content than ever before. Worth saying that I think news, features and reporting are important too: audiences discover the personalities involved in sport by a variety of routes these days. Tom Daley became famous without there being hours of live diving on peaktime television.

    Finally for now gdodds in #10: I'd be interested in other views, but I'm not convinced personally that an Olympic sports round-up would attract that many people - because there's such a range of sports and I'm not sure hockey fans would want to sit through handball news, or that swimming fans are necessarily interested in amateur boxing. Within the excitement of an Olympic Games, people do want to share the excitement of the different live events and the medal moments - but does that mean a mixed sport programme would work in 2010 or 2011?

  • Comment number 13.

    I would dearly love to see some Olympic Wrestling on the BBC, to redress the unfortunate omission from Beijing. And to counter the prevailing notion that wrestling is all Big Daddy / WWE Americanised claptrap. Wrestling as a competition sport is hugely important in the martial arts scene as a foundation discipline for many UFC/MMA champions, and I think it would be revelatory to see both it and judo in 2012 and beyond.

  • Comment number 14.

    Rob K - Wrestling is emphatically part of our commitment to offer live coverage of every event in London 2012, so there should be live and uninterrupted Olympic wrestling on this website. Plus news and other coverage on the main TV channels along with the previews and guides that we'll be doing for every Olympic sport.

  • Comment number 15.

    Roger,

    Fantastic blog as always.

    I think it is important to look at the big picture here.

    Rather than everyone saying what sports they enjoy, I think it is sensible to look at what factors need to be considered. Sports that fall into one or more of the following categories are the ones to focus on.

    1. Sports with a particular importance of status at the Olympics
    (eg Athletics & Swimming as major sports)

    2. Sports at iconic venues with a history or heritage.
    (such as football at Wembley with the "GB {England}" team, tennis at Wimbledon, archery at Lords)

    3. Sports where GB are expected to do well and have a high medal chance.
    (Cycling, plus sitting down sports and anything in the water!).

    4. Sports that are exciting to watch and people will switch on to irrespective of GB chances (eg Canoe Slalom in the same way that Snowboard and Ski Cross were popular in the Winter Olympics).

    5. Novelty value sports (eg Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade and sports we would not usually enter eg Handball).

    All five categories should feature heavily in main coverage. Build up programmes in the run up to the games could feature a different angle each week, eg history of the stadia, profile of main medal contenders, understanding sports such as handball and canoe slalom, and focus on some of the expected non-GB stars of the Games. Similar to the official FIFA World Cup magazine programmes that Channel 4 cover on a Saturday morning.

    As for 2013 onwards, then I am afraid the only sports that will still be on the radar are the ones with the history or heritage, or particular GB strength (all in categories 1, 2 and 3, except for Archery). I am afraid as much as the Beach Volleyball, Canoe Slalom and Handball will be novelty factors at Olympics time, they will soon fade in the same way as our love for Snowboard Cross....until 4 years later when the next Olympics come around. The Olympics is a bit like X Factor or Big Brother (in its prime) in terms of hype. There is a lot of interest in everybody and everything whilst it is happening....but only the Leona Lewis' of this world are the ones that really stand the test in time. Hence it will still be the "top rated, traditional sports" from the Olympics that people want to watch from 2013 onwards.

    Andy




  • Comment number 16.

    As I've commented before getting ratings during the Olympics isn't just about the games themselves - but about how those sports are covered in the 4 years in between, and unfortunately at the moment at a time when the BBC should be increasing their coverage of Olympic sport it appears to be on the decrease, whilst rival broadcasters haven't took the opportunity to cash in on London 2012 by picking up other major events in key Olympic Sports.

    Increased coverage between the games in theory at least increases opportunities for sponsorship, which increases performance which then increases our chances of success at the games themselves - which the BBC then get repaid in terms of ratings when the Olympics come around again. Similarly the BBC need to be taking feedback from the Olympics and ensuring it's not four years until we see that sport on TV again.


    Sports wise and traditionally Athletics has always been the main focus, but in recent years it has fallen out of favour somewhat - though Usain Bolt is pretty much single handedly keeping interest alive at the moment. As you say though timings influence a lot - if ratings reflected success rowing and cycling would be topping the charts - and may do in Rio where the timezone could put them in UK primetime - but as they'll probably be daytime events in London they'll lose out to the likes of athletics in prime time.

    I'd be amazed though if any event gets higher ratings than the Opening Ceremony - talking of which, note to BBC schedules: If the ceremony begins at 8pm don't do the usual trick and allow three hours in the schedule for it even though every ceremony since at least Atlanta has been 4 hours or longer!

  • Comment number 17.

    I think between Andy in #15 and Brekkie in #16 we see the dilemma again. Andy is right that we could put Snowboard Cross into the schedule outside the Olympics and it would get a fraction of the audience it got during the Vancouver Games. So the challenge to the Brekkie view is *how* we get people to watch in large enough numbers outside Games-time.

    But I do agree with the comment about ceremonies: they should be at the top of the viewing chart for London 2012. I'll have a bash at some proper predictions nearer the time but the one challenger might be the 100m final, which would be late in the evening if it follows the Beijing timing - and that race will get an enormous audience.

  • Comment number 18.

    Slightly as an aside, but Roger, you've disappeared from the front page of the BBC Sport website again. It's a bit of a nightmare to try and find the blog (like the Sports Editors blog) when they remove it from there. Can you sort it out?

  • Comment number 19.

    Jordan D - "Olympics" is still there, and that actually gives you a better range than just me!

  • Comment number 20.

    Agree with gdodds about covering the Manchester Revolutions event - in some respect it makes more sense to cover these than the World Cup. Also notice 5Live Sport Xtra is covering the national Swimming Championships/Trials next week (nightly around 6pm), but nothing TV wise.

    Love the idea of an Olympic Sport round up too - for many of us sport isn't all about football, cricket and rugby (that's why I'm now favouring morethanthegames.co.uk over BBC Sport lately!), and the news round up Grandstand used to do more often than not would cover that base. I get your point about Tom Daley and the news, but although obviously there is a crossover, reports on the news don't necessarily reach the fans of the sport.


    Olympic Sports such as swimming, cycling and rowing are getting probably the best coverage the BBC has ever given them - but away from these big events the lesser sports are certainly losing out, and it would be great for the BBC to address that. The return of some kind of "Olympic Dreams" programme would be great (and a much better filler on Saturday afternoons than repeats of A Question of Sport).

    The BBC may not be able to cover events in every Olympic Sport, but it would be great if an attempt was made to introduce viewers to the British stars of as many sports as possible - especially the genuine 2012 medal hopes - and a show like the "Olympic Dreams" concept would pretty much tick that box.

  • Comment number 21.

    @Jordan D - Personally, i've created a blogs folder in my favourites list and added all the blogs i check regularly (including this one). It's an easy way to check blogs outside of RSS.

  • Comment number 22.

    Firstly you show the UK figures for watching the limited broadcasts BBC gave. If you show lots and lots of athletics and very few hours of handball then it is inevitable that you will get the kind of figures you show.

    However, if you check out the IOC worldwide figures for viewing you get a different view and volleyball has the most watched hours.

    Why such a disparity with the UK figures? `Firstly, BBC sport during the year is about Football, then football and then football and maybe a little of the other professional sports. Yes they are popular but a lot of other sports are popluar with a lot of people but you don't attempt to show them. The BBC gave up all credibility as a sports channel when it got rid of Grandstand. The BBC claims it is a public service broadcaster but this does not stand the test in sport.

    In the run up to the Olympics in Britain it could be doing so much more to do proper features and reports on all the Olympic sports. Outside of those where it can find former medal winners/players etc to give "expert" input it goes down to the level of the tabloids andtrivialises sports with the kind of "jokey" attempts at the sport it has shown on Breakfast TV- presenter has a go - ho ho what funb and we will finish with a self mickey take for fun.
    The Arts have sensible serious, credible programmes about their constituent disciplines. Often teh numbers interested in some topics are below that of the least popular sport but the BBC carries out its public service responsibilities.

    So Roger Mosey tell us why in the next two years the BBC cannot do some serious, reporting on ALL the Olympic sports?

  • Comment number 23.

    Womanofsport in #22 - we're committed to reporting on all Olympic sports, yes. But audiences' tastes differ around the world, and in the UK I'm 100% sure that most athletics events would beat most handball or volleyball no matter how and where you scheduled them.

    On the wider points you make: we ended Grandstand because people no longer wanted to watch half-an-hour of one sport followed (or worse, interrupted) by 20 minutes of another. Since then we have delivered our promises of MORE sport overall, and more live and uninterrupted across all our platforms. So there should be no doubt about our commitment.

    But the challenge, and you're right about this, is to extend the public interest from the obvious 'headliners' - athletics, swimming, cycling -into the widest possible range of other sports. That's why we have the "Olympic Dreams" programme, returning soon to BBC One, and it's why we put many different Olympians into mainstream non-sport programming to introduce them to fresh audiences. And we'll also be seeking to increase the amount of Olympic reporting on this website, alongside guides where people new to a sport can learn more.

  • Comment number 24.

    Good to know that Olympic Dreams will be returning soon.

    Don't want to go over old ground as we've covered the Grandstand issue in your blogs many times in the last few years, but though the BBC may be covering "more sport", is it actually covering "more sports".

    As you've said when the FA Cup/England contract was lost that money was ploughed into Bernie's Pension Fund (or F1 as I believe it's officially titled!) and also into Championship/League Cup matches, which along with rugby (which I'll never begrudge), tennis, snooker and to a lesser extent I guess athletics and golf, probably make up the vast majority of the BBC's live output over the year.

    Those thirty minutes of one sport and twenty minutes of another on Grandstand used to cover alot of the minor sports which didn't get live coverage, pretty much on a weekly basis too - and many of them now get no scheduled presence at all during the year.


    In the BBC's defence though I guess the situation is clear - in order to give Olympic Sport the coverage we perhaps think it warrants outside of the games themselves, you'd basically have to give up the Olympics themselves as so much of the "other sport" budget has to be tied up in those rights.

  • Comment number 25.

    Y-e-e-e-s: I think we have to be wary of a myth of a golden age in which the likes of Handball and Volleyball were often shown on Grandstand and won mass followings because of that.

    But the fact is we still show a wide range of sports: I began this blog by mentioning the World Track Cycling which got extensive live coverage as a key Olympic sport, but this coming weekend we range from Figure Skating and the Boat Race (back on the BBC) to the Malaysian Grand Prix and Match Of The Day.

    Also, crucially, we have the 24x7 Sports News output on the News Channel, Radio 5 Live, World Service and the rest - plus this website with its millions of users each day - to ensure that sports are supported more effectively than by an edited 20 minutes of daytime TV once in a while.

  • Comment number 26.

    Its good to hear that Olympic Dreams is coming back. It is a good show but the only downside is that it focuses on the 5 or 6 people.

    What I really mised before the last olympics was a Road to Beijing tstyle programme. The previous editions such as 'Road to Athens' and 'Road to Melbourne' were great shows that covered a lot of different sports, a lot of different people and some nice history pieces. And in the past Olympic Dreams had this style format in a monthly format.

    Channel 4 have done a good show 'Destination 2012' and I would like to see something similar on the BBC.

  • Comment number 27.

    Roger

    Interesting blog and comments as normal. Much more civilised and considered that the Have Your Say ones!

    I'm not sure that it is the BBC's role to develop audiences for sport and especially the minority ones - it can show sports and hope that people watch but thats about it but it the 'product' isnlt interesting then it wont get watched. The Sports bodies have to do the development as well. Some seam better at doing it than others - but too many appear to have the attitude of 'we run the sport how we want it, we wont change to make it more "viewable" and can we have our rights money now'.

    I know that dosent apply to all sports but too often the 'Blazer wearers' are their own worst enemies.

    But when the BBC does show some of the 'minority sports' it it needs to promote them more.

    You said Ice Skating (which I do enjoy watching) would be shown this weekend but WHEN? I know (even though I am not a footy fan) that there will be match of the day on Saturday Night and there have been trailers for the Boat Race and the F1 GP but no publicity for the Skating.

    Even then it is only highlights as they were held last weekend ! In the past the BBC has done daily broadcasts etc





  • Comment number 28.

    Coverage of the swimming trials this week could have reached for more people through a TV outlet too.

    Yes, it's not an event which warrants live slots on BBC1/2, or automatically a place on the red button, but a highlights loop on BBCi or a programme sometime over the weekend with. as little as 30-minutes of highlights from the week wouldn't have been a bad thing.

  • Comment number 29.

    David Shield: I'm hoping to write more about Olympic Dreams and I'll address the "Road to..." issue there too.

    Magnificentpolarbear: you make an extremely good point when you say "if the 'product' isn't interesting then it won't get watched. The Sports bodies have to do the development as well."

    Brekkie: as you know, I'm no longer in BBC Sport. But I think the point here is about the cost of covering an event versus the number of people who then watch it. So some events are low cost or have a host feed supplied, in which case we can do the kind of things you suggest. But if it involves coverage from scratch - and especially if it's an event that needs many cameras to capture it properly - then it's more difficult to justify the expense if the transmission is interactive only.

  • Comment number 30.

    Just noticed "Olympic Dreams" returns to BBC1 next Tuesday at 10.35pm. Had forgotten though till David Shield pointed it out the brand was now used on what is quite a different show and agree I'd like something like "Road to London", which focuses as much on the sport as the personalities, to return and fill those increasingly vacant slots on a Saturday afternoon when the BBC doesn't have continuous live sport.

  • Comment number 31.

    Roger - I'm aa bit late in contributing to this blog but there are some interesting posts. I'm afraid, I'm going to bang on about a point I have made several times before in relation to Olympic sports. Surely one of the major problems in translating coverage and interest in minority sports into participation is access to facilities. Many minority sports require specialist coaching, equipment and facilities - track cycling, diving, equestrian based sports, yachting, pentathlon, rowing, etc. These can be difficult to access on cost grounds or because of simple geography. The BBC will no doubt give significant coverage to track cycling beacause we are good at it, but how many velodromes are there in the UK? I find it hard to believe these sports can ever be mass participation sports irrespective of the level of BBC coverage. To me, it does raise the questions of (i) whether some of these sports should be Olympic sports, (ii) whether so much funding should be provided to elite athletes in these sports and (iii) how much coverage of them should the BBC provide if part of its objective is to leave a legacy of a more sporting nation. Wouldn't more coverage of sports like hockey and basketball which I reckon are more accessible not be more appropriate?

  • Comment number 32.

    Late late contribution to this I know, but it amazes me that fencing gets minimal coverage even at the Olympics.
    The video below is probably the best way to get across how amazinf a sport fencing is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=205DiZhDYGE
    Athletic, exciting, action packed, explosive- you don't even need a strong grip on the rules to enjoy the spectacle.

  • Comment number 33.

    Both late contributions read and noted. Thanks.

  • Comment number 34.

    I agree with a lot of the comments on this blog about the need to have a consistent look at a greater variety of sports in the build up to the games - but we have the 'chicken and egg' situation - sports dont get an audience, as they are not well known - cited by Roger as a reason for a lack of interest in a 'magazine' type show - I was recently in Sweden and Denmark - their TV coverage of women's sport, and other high participation/amateur sport was very interesting, and I'm sure must help play a part in creating a higher rate of interest in sport participation and volunteering - creating the right 'social climate' where its not all about football, or the elite athletes. Could the BBC not step in to provide a place for young people to see and learn about the sportsmen and women who appear at the olympics and paralympics in less high profile sports. This could be a big contributer to converting an 'audience' into a more active young population. Where is the 'inspiration' going to come from if young people dont get to see these athletes?

  • Comment number 35.

    Hockeymum - you make some interesting points. As I've said, I hope Olympic Dreams and World Olympic Dreams are part of the answer to your last point; and we're determined to use the Olympics themselves as the biggest ever showcase for sport and everything that goes with it. But, and this remains a significant issue: there are some things (a minority, I hope) that audiences don't take to, and it's that old line about you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink!

 

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