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What's for Breakfast?

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Roger Mosey | 13:24 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

It doesn't, to be honest, take a genius to work out what the BBC daytime and evening schedule will be during the Olympic Games. It'll feature lots of live sport - indeed, our aim is now up to 6000 hours of it playing across all our platforms.

Where there's more debate, though, is about the two ends of the day. I wrote a little while ago about highlights and where they should play late in the evening; and this week's discussions here at Television Centre have been about BBC One's Breakfast and its role within our 2012 coverage.

Bill Turnbull and Sian Lloyd present BBC Breakfast

Breakfast is currently broadcast from Television Centre, West London. Photo: BBC

As with much of what we're up to, we won't nail everything down for a few months yet. But the questions for Breakfast include where it will physically be broadcast from and what implications that has for our resource planning - along with whether during the 17 days of the Games it's a programme entirely produced by BBC News, as it is normally, or whether it's a co-production between News and Sport.

It would struggle as a Sport-only show because people will still want their early fix of headlines, local news and weather no matter how special the overall menu will be; and the unique feature of Breakfast will be that it's the only regular BBC One flagship programme that will be on air when there's virtually no live sport happening across London's venues. At the moment our best estimate is that the action will get underway around 8.30 or 9am. It therefore has an opportunity to feature more of the big name guests, along with a flavour of Olympic news and opinions from around the UK, without that nagging thought in your mind that somebody may be about to win a medal.

The appropriately-named Brekkie made a contribution to this blog a few weeks back where he also noted Breakfast's opportunity to review the previous day's action:
"I guess really Olympic Breakfast will effectively serve as the highlights show for the previous night, though I imagine the Olympics will be burning the candle at both ends."
- and that will unquestionably be one of the programme's roles too, though we still need to offer a rational pattern of highlights for our viewers so they can get what they want when they want it, but aren't driven screaming from their television sets when they see the 100m final for the 183rd time in 24 hours.

It seems to me overall that Breakfast has a great creative opportunity during the summer of 2012. It's already one of our most successful shows, and it's worth a fiver that it will attract more viewers than ever given the access it will have to Olympic venues and content. The chance it has is to use three hours of airtime to really increase the range of what we offer and to complement the live sport and the 'straight' news coverage elsewhere in the schedule. The teams from News and Sport will be sharpening up their ideas during 2011, but as ever we'd like to hear from you if you've thoughts on what would make you set the alarm for 6am between 27 July and 12 August in 2012.


  • Comment number 1.

    By 2012 the country will be fully digital for it's TV.So would it make a bit more sense to use the red button option for full highlights/analysis/comments and have a slightly longer sports bulletin in the news programmes?I know the Olympics are a big deal,but there's a lot more going on in the world.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would like to see a strong regional presence from/on the breakfast show, in particular relating to the athletes that have/are taking part. Even though the Olympics are in London don't forget that 4 out of 5 people are outside the capital and having the show broadcast from various parts of the UK could generate a cohesive and communal feel as our Team GB competitors take on the best of the world!

  • Comment number 3.

    Olympic Breakfast should be like a cross between the normal news broadcast, and something like 'Wimbledon Today' - it will be the biggest piece of news in Britain for a very long time, so should be covered thoroughly, but equally, things will still happen both in the UK, and internationally, so it's finding the right balance. It should remain light-hearted, but not too sport heavy.I mean, 6000 hours of it will be broadcast - I think we can do without 3 more...

  • Comment number 4.

    So postponing the Salford move for a few months is still not an option?

    Either way, there should be plenty of News behind the sport. How are the venues holding up? Ticketing issues? Spectators opinions? etc.

    Summer is usually silly season for news so we can all do without those stories about a new colour bee in Colchester or a 18th Century Sweetshop discovered in Manchester under a blanket. That should make more time for sports related news.

  • Comment number 5.

    I, too, would like to see Breakfast take a look at the news consequences of the Olympics, as #4 mentions. Of course there'll be a highlights package for the sports section (and I have no doubt I'll be a consumer). But there's an opportunity to highlight some of the less well-loved sports that don't often get a look in in highlights packages. Judo, fencing, archery, wrestling and several others seem to lack the screentime that some of the more popular sports receive -- could Breakfast redress that balance? We'll get plenty of gymnastics, swimming, and athletics during the main broadcast hours. Give them a rest and let some others take the spotlight for a change!

  • Comment number 6.

    I would like to see all of the sports footage (the highlights) kept to a normal sports bullitin. Breakfast would then focus on major stories running in the background as well as focus on previewing the action of the day. It would also be good to keep recorded sections to a mimimum. I wouldn't want a five minute video on the 100m contest. Keep it live and flowing.
    The other thing is as the sports coverage won't start until 9am couldn't the 'studio' space or whatever the sports team would be using be used for presenting from making the BBC as a whole community ie in the spirit of the Games. As well as I imagine being cheaper to share.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks for the comments - and some quick thoughts in return from me:

    1. Jacksofbuxton - you're right that there'll be a lot of other things going on in the world, and the BBC One bulletins (which should generally remain in their normal slots) will cover all that as well as the usual 24x7 BBC News channels.

    2. Hennur - agreed. Breakfast will retain its opts for nations and regions, and we'll be aiming to tell the whole UK story in our networked output too.

    3. Adam 9309 - that sounds a possible mix, yes.

    4. MyVoiceinYrHead - I think we can promise no bees from Colchester.

    5. RobK - don't forget that for the first time ever we can guarantee fans of a particular sport that they can watch the whole event live. So whereas there was no fencing scheduled long-form in Beijing, this time you'll be able to watch it from dawn to dusk. But I agree it's important that "minority" sports make an appearance on the main networks too - though I'd still expect there to be more interest in athletics than handball, obviously.

    6. Chrishalluni - we're looking at sharing the main Olympic studio, yes. And I agree that 'liveness' is key.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have to agree with some of the posters above that this might be one of the best opportunities to retain the existing schedule, with perhaps extended sports bulletins to highlight the previous day's Olympic news.

    This is because I think that those with the greatest interest in the Olympics will have gravitated towards coverage either when it happened or in the late evening highlights, and therefore it won't be of significant interest to them some 7-10 hours later. Those with a mere passing interest will probably find extended coverage dominating their normal schedules during the day and to add it into the Breakfast time coverage (when as we say there won't actually be any events going on) might be a bit too much.

    Those who have taken time off to watch it will probably be lying in so as to be ready for the live coverage when it starts!

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't really see the need to change the status quo which has been in play as long as I can remember - Olympic Breakfast on BBC1, with a news based alternatively either on BBC2 or BBC News. I know regional opt-outs complicate things now BBC2 isn't fully regional (that's progress hey!), but I'm sure they featured during Olympic Breakfast in Beijing and would slot in just as easily there.

    I do accept though with no live action and no overnight action to round up a full three hour programme might be redundant, but I wouldn't like to see Olympic Breakfast dropped completely - especially as the games would dominate. And also, as I've bought up many times, I think it's important the games are bought to us by the faces of BBC Sport, not BBC News, and hence would like to see a BBC Sport produced show.

    I think the sensible compromise would be:

    06.00-07.00 Breakfast - from BBC News, continuing on the News Channel.
    07.00-08.30 Olympic Breakfast - from BBC Sport, remaining Olympics focused but including half-hourly regular news, regional news and weather updates.
    08.30-Bedtime! Live action from the games.

  • Comment number 10.

    Dave Harris in #8: point taken.

    Brekkie in #9: on your regional question, we can't opt Nations and Regions on BBC Two - that has to be on BBC One. But I think the main difference between this and previous Olympic schedules is simply the London factor. News and travel (how to get to the Games) and weather around these UK Olympics will be of interest to BBC One viewers in the Breakfast period alongside the sporting action; and the risk with your suggested schedule is that Olympic Breakfast and the News Channel would be doing much of the same content and seeking many of the same guests.

    Our preference is therefore to keep BBC One and the News Channel together until the action starts because that avoids duplication - but obviously this is something we're keeping under review until we make the final decisions in a few months' time.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes - think I slightly misinterpreted the original blog to be honest, but get what you're saying now.

    Still a conflict though between such shows being presented from a "news" angle and a "sport" angle (talking of which, Stuart Storey was superb commentating on the opening ceremony of the Asian Games yesterday - I expect London 2012 will be very relieved that wasn't shown in the UK!). I do agree with the earlier posts though that Breakfast is a good opportunity to cover some of the other news related to the games which shouldn't erode too much into the coverage of the games itself.

    IMO there are two things which are a must - the show must come from London and ideally the BBC Olympic studio, and it must be led by the BBC Sport team rather than the usual Breakfast team.

  • Comment number 12.

    My thoughts for Olympic Breakfast are a joint news and sport opperation (I guess thats a given).

    It should run 6.00-8.30am simulcast with the News Channel as it is now and when the news channel goes to rolling news that is when Olympic Grandstand should start, with more in-depth previews of the days action.

    I would like to see it presented from the BBC Olympic studio with for example a team like Bill Turnbull and Hazel Irvine, with say Sian Williams in the studio for regular bulletins. It would cover discussions and analysis of the stories and highlights of the top events, eg 100 metres final, end of rowing finals etc say twice during the show is a roughly 15 minute segment.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm sure if the BBC segments the market into 'mad keen viewers, keen to watch but likes their beauty sleep, couldn't give a toss and actively hostile', you'll find the way to cater for all appropriately using the various channels at your disposal........


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