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Summer of Sport

Lewis Wiltshire | 13:15 UK time, Monday, 7 July 2008

In my working life, the phrase I have heard probably more than any other in the past year is Summer of Sport.

That's the (admittedly dull) buzzword we attached many months ago to a period of three months when we knew we would have to deliver for this website Euro 2008 and the Olympics, with a Ryder Cup thrown in for good measure and those huge annual events which need to be dealt with every summer - Wimbledon, the Open, an England cricket series, the climax of the domestic football seasons in England and Scotland and the start of the new football campaigns.

Today feels like a good moment to at least slightly draw breath. Euro 2008 was a success for us, in terms of audiences to the website, and in terms of moving on our style of coverage. The fact that all the home nations failed to make it there did undoubtedly impact on those audiences - it's impossible to know how many more people we would have attracted each day with England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales there - but they were healthy nonetheless.

Wimbledon has just finished, and today everyone is talking about arguably the best men's singles final ever. Most days during Wimbledon and the Euros we had more than 3m people looking in - that figure has now become a benchmark for us during major events rather than a figure we aspire to occasionally which it used to be.

The challenge for me, and our team, will be to keep progressing the way we cover live sport. We have just launched a new football blog which will run throughout the season as an accompaniment to the action. We will also be rolling out some new live statistics during matches, and the way we present live text commentaries, which I feel will have an impact.

One thing we were able to do during Wimbledon was operate our ever-popular live text commentaries from Centre Court - most of these in all other sports are still done from our Television Centre base, with journalists watching the sport on video feeds, because we cannot take our publishing system on the road yet. But Wimbledon is effectively a BBC office, with the BBC network available on our laptops at SW19, so we had Tom Fordyce, Caroline Cheese and others running those text commentaries from where the action was, which made a nice change.

Tom Fordyce, Stade de France, midnight, 13 October 2007

While technical solutions to do this more often are worked on, in the meantime, our plans for coverage of the Olympics online are in the final stages, with one month to go, and we're also nearly ready to roll out a new golf blog in time for the Open and the Ryder Cup.

And looking further ahead, everyone in BBC Sport is making preparations for Formula One coming back here in 2009, with the Football League on BBC TV and this website from 2009-10. Lewis Hamilton's thrilling win at Silverstone on Sunday was proof, if it were needed, that F1 in general and he in particular can get the nation talking just as much as Messrs Nadal and Federer did later in the day, and on the website my challenge will be to reflect that. A lot going on - so I might enjoy this very brief moment of pause before we step it up again!


  • Comment number 1.

    It has been great coverage on the BBC and its not over yet!
    I like the Text commentaries BUT some of the reporters on these put down comments that really you shouldnt see from a BBC Journalist.
    When the Edgbaston ODI between England and New Zealand was abandoned, the reporter who was doing the text commentary was literally using Caps lock to express his disgust, this isnt good from a BBC Journalist.
    Still cant wait for the Olympics and cant wait for the F1 next season and the Football League in 2010

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Summer of Sports.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for the response, WebbyFoxes. You make an interesting point. I think on that occasion Ben Dirs was trying to convey the immense feeling of frustration that all fans felt when that match ended without a result. That's what our text commentaries aim for - to be more human, more interactive, more reflective of sport's passion.

    Because of that, it doesn't feel to me as though they need to adhere to the strict rules of impartiality that our news reports do, but clearly they also need to be appropriate for a BBC website. I hope they do generally walk that line successfully - I wonder if you agree?

  • Comment number 5.

    The live text commentaries are of course most often accessed by those of us at work, so it's nice if they can raise a smile alongside keeping us informed. There are plenty of stats services for those who need 'just the facts'.

  • Comment number 6.

    1. I think that the BBC website is probably the best sports website there is quite comfortably.

    2. Can you integrate the blogs into normal pages with the menu on the left of the page and 'blogs' as one of the options? It would make them easier to use and find.

    3. Please don't ignore the fact that you show horseracing like the King George (although it is minimal).

    4. Also, do you know anything about who will present the F1 coverage?

    Cheers, keep it up.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks for the comment Lewis regarding my point.
    I know what the reporter Ben Dirs was showing frustration but he shouldnt have used Caps Locks.
    I agree that they keep to the rules and that Ben Dirs didnt use swearing to convey his frustration but I was wondering why he needed to use the Caps Lock button.
    But I like text commentaries, espically when you are not near the TV or you have to watch something else.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tedious, tedious, tedious sport - surely the BBC has a channel that could be just for sport so that the majority of viewers can be left in peace. You have managed to ruin June's viewing, presumably you are going to inflict Olympics on us for August? Cheap telly - and all to pump up the figures. What happened to the mighty BBC and how many really good programmes are left un-made to fund this rubbish?

  • Comment number 9.

    Sorry crickedneck, but tedious, tedious, tedious period drama - surely the BBC has a channel that could be just for period dramas so that the viewers like myself can be left in piece. They've managed to ruin most Sunday nights' viewing ...

    You get the idea: some people like sport, some like period drama, and the BBC have to provide it all. It might help to stop constantly moaning and enjoy the bits you like and let others enjoy the bits they like. If I had a penny for everytime I wish the BBC didn't fund "rubbish" period dramas, I'd be very rich and the BBC could fund more "really good" sports programmes.

    However, it's moderation all round so we all get a piece of the pie.

  • Comment number 10.

    I see F1 is the latest fashionable sport for the BBC

    Just note that British driver Lewis Hamilton's win in the British Grand Prix attracted six million viewers.

    The tennis, played by two non-Brits, was watched by double that number.

    While the return of any sport to the BBC should be welcomed, please do not go overboard on motorsport at the expense of your staples - Football, Tennis, Horse Racing, Golf and Rugby

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi all,

    Apologies for the delay in responding to your comments.

    RedTimbo - you make a really interesting point about the blogs being incorporated into the main part of our website. To be honest, that's technically not possible right at this moment, and whilst there are no immediate plans to do it (all our development man hours are being taken up by Olympics work currently) it's fair to say we are keen to have more interaction around the main part of, which is produced on a completely different system to our blogs. I'm grateful for this point though - it's food for thought.

    Regarding F1, I'm not privvy to decisions made about who will front the F1 coverage on TV. I can only really answer questions about the website - but I know the coverage on TV of F1 next year will be outstanding, and hopefully it will be on this website too!

    RespectedTerry - I take your point, but I'm extremely confident that BBC Sport can deliver fantastic F1 coverage without compromising the tennis or anything else. The fact that Wimbledon clashed with the Euros and with ongoing Moto GP and other sport besides showed that we're adept at producing lots of different sports at one time! I can't take any credit for that on TV - I am only responsible for the website and other digital services - but I think my colleagues in TV will be very sure the Wimbledon coverage won't be dampened in any way by F1.


  • Comment number 13.

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


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