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Highlights audiences dwindle in multimedia world

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Roger Mosey | 17:15 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2012

I spoke last week at a lunch organised by the Broadcasting Press Guild.

It's one of the more intimidating outings for a broadcasting executive because the media correspondents from many of the national newspapers are there - from The Guardian to The Sun - and it's also "on the record": everything you say can be reported.

A small number of stories did emerge - about the technology we're planning to use and about the Opening Ceremony, where I'd note that "creative risk" remains a good thing in my book.

But what generated almost no coverage was the disclosure that we won't have a formal daily highlights programme for the London Olympics in the way that we have done for previous Games.

The reason it didn't make headlines, I'd like to think, is that the case is a rational one: the scheduling makes it difficult, and viewing habits have changed.

But I know a previous blog on this subject a couple of years back received some mixed reaction, so let me spin through the argument in a bit more detail.

First, the live action from the London Games will continue until almost midnight.

Not all of it will be front-rank sport, but we want the ability to take you to the continuing live events whether it's basketball or beach volleyball or boxing.

In which case it's impossible to schedule highlights on BBC One until midnight - and if you were waiting for a particular sport it might not take to the air until close to 1am.

This is a different case from Athens, the last time the Games were in a European time-zone, where the two-hour difference meant the action finished early enough to allow for a highlights show.

Night time picture of the Olympic Park

Live action from the Olympic Games will continue well into the evening

But second, the thinning out of the sport schedule as the day winds down does allow for the programme that will come on air at 10.40pm - hosted by Gabby Logan - to combine the live sport that remains with some of the biggest moments of the day that's passed.

In particular, we expect to get many of the medal-winners into the studio for this programme; so we'd hope to celebrate their achievements and watch their performances with them, interspersed by updates on the action that's continuing.

This mixed approach makes more editorial sense than that programme being either live only or highlights only.

The third big factor in our thinking is that there's now a multitude of ways to catch highlights without there being a dedicated show.

There's the sport website, which will include the ability to rewind and review any session; there's the iPlayer; and there will be headlines including clips of the best bits across our BBC One and BBC Three schedule, including the news bulletins.

And the evidence of other sport events is that audiences for highlights have dwindled massively, precisely because there are so many other ways to see what you want.

But even then we're making sure we do cater for people who want a digest of each day's Olympics with a high story count and all the relevant information.

There will be special editions of Sportsday on the BBC News Channel at 6.30pm, 10.30pm and 0.15am - with the latter also broadcast on BBC One - so you can catch anything you may have missed. If there's something you want to see at greater length, the choice will be yours via all our catch-up services.

Additionally, as we announced a few months back, there will be a 3D highlights programme - a chance to see the day through a different pair of lenses - scheduled on the BBC HD channel around 11pm each night.

As a statement of the obvious, this will only include sport that was filmed in 3D for the world feed; so it won't include some non-3D sports like rowing and sailing.

Finally we will, of course, also be reviewing the Games at the end of the 17 days.

The ultimate highlights programme is likely to run in the hour or so before the Closing Ceremony and that will be the polished, considered view of the whole of London 2012 in the same style as our much-appreciated review of Beijing in 2008.

The aim overall: that you need never miss a moment, and that we'll help you find anything you want to view live and then again at the time of your choice.


  • Comment number 1.

    I hope the poor production team of Today at Wimbledon don't read this.

  • Comment number 2.

    i cant seem to find bbctv schedules for the 17 day period of the Olympics have they been released yet ? and if they haven't yet when do u expect them to be released ? and also will all BBC1/3 coverage be available on the iplayer ?

  • Comment number 3.

    I think a highlights programme at 22.40 is great. Hopefully it will include a good overview of all the sports. Im a Athletics fan but like to hear about other sports, especially where GB is doing well or has done well in. This is healthy and helps a deeper understanding of the GB team and what to watch out for.

    Gabby Logan is a good choice to host the programme.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm not sure the BBC can have it both ways. As the BBC's portfolio of live events has dwindled, we are told highlights are the way people want to watch events (think the loss of live golf and F1) Whilst budgetary reasons are out with their control, surely the press releases defending the losses of live coverage come across as slightly patronising? For what it's worth though, I generally agree with the decision re: olympic highlights, I just would like consistency in press releases that doesn't patronise the viewer.

  • Comment number 5.

    Can someone please briefly help me to understand why


    ....and others

    have no team in the list of 16 for the men's ..... and yet Switzerland qualified?

    Am I 'Rumpelstiltskin' and just waking up and noticing that Olympic football is being boycotted by three out of four top world-wide football fan countries?

    yes, Spike Lee, perhaps you were correct all along:

    ''s the shoes.'

  • Comment number 6.

    Not surprised by this and think what you're offering is probably a fair compromise - though I don't really see how a highlights show after midnight would be a problem anyway - viewers will lap up every second you have to offer, though I do think your "Never miss a moment on the BBC" tagline needs an "except on Freeview" disclaimer! (Great ad except the freaky not quite life like athletes!)

    Also sports news and highlights are two different things - the first usually links into the VT revealing the result, the second lets the VT itself reveal the result.

    P.S. Any date for the planned series on the history of the games?

  • Comment number 7.

    RE Comment 5

    The European qualifiers for football were decided from the Euro 2011 Under 21 Championships. Spain won with Switzerland as runners up. Belarus beat Czech Rep in the Olympic play-off (basically 3rd place play off).

    The three teams you mentioned above did not qualify for this tournament so couldn't compete in the Olympics as a result.

  • Comment number 8.

    @Brekkie in #6: Faster, Higher, Stronger will run on BBC Two from next Monday for 4 nights at 7pm.

    @thefullsparky in #4: I didn't intend to write off highlights altogether. The most conspicuous example of where they work is Match Of The Day, which still has massive audiences; and clearly they have greater salience when the original broadcast was behind a pay-wall. But when the coverage is extensive and free-to-air, the need for a special highlights show is much lower.

    @lee123 in #2: the schedules aren't out yet, but yes - everything on BBC One and BBC Three will be on iPlayer.

  • Comment number 9.

    ADD: In my previous blog, which closed before I got the chance to reply, Brekkie asked which Freeview connected TVs will have the BBC Sport app.

    The answer: the BBC Sport app is currently available on Sony 2012 connected TVs, Panasonic 2012 connected TVs, Samsung 2011 and 2012 connected TVs and PS3. It will also be available on Panasonic 2011 connected TVs in time for the Olympics.

  • Comment number 10.

    So will it be available on YouView? It was launched today and boxes will be available before the Olympics, presumably specifically for it.

    I've currently got a box as I'm trialling it and really want the BBC Sport app - but absolutly no mention of it!

  • Comment number 11.

    Mr Mosey could i possibly be cheeky in asking a slightly and i mean slightly of-topic Question?

    London 2012: BBC to show GB Olympic football warm-ups

    In terms of the Mens GB Team, is the presenting team going to be the same as you do for England Games, so Linekar,Shearer,Hansen and Lawro and Mowbrary doing the comentating, or are you going to give some raw talent the chance to impress?

    If the mens Team GB reach the final, ratings could be massive.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks Roger - completely missed the documentary in the BBC2 schedules. Also thanks for the answer to Connected TV.

  • Comment number 13.

    Whilst the public are curious and wondering about what sort of opening ceremony they are going to see in London 2012, It pains me no end to point out that many musicians and artists have been manipulated to play for no fee in the Olympics events. Musicians will play a very large role in the Olympic ceremonies as the world watches on, and just like all of the people who have worked tirelessly to put this event on, they deserve respect of their profession. This sad fact can be confirmed by this story published by the BBC 6 days ago, - please bare in mind, this is not China, this is the UK and the bottom line is that this is totally unacceptable.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm not sure this is the right decision - there is so much Olympics the only way to feel like you are not missing out is to watch highlights.

    As previously mentioned when you watch highlights you don't know the result - but if you pick it up in sports news you often do... I realise that having the Olympics in our timezone completely changes the way as a nation we will consume it (Olympic Brekfast won't be the must watch it normally is) but do make sure we get the chance to see the crucial Olympic moments without knowing whats going to happen first!

  • Comment number 15.

    The first of the official schedules has been announced - Friday 27 July Olympics 2012 7.00pm until 12.30am covering the Opening Ceremony which is due to start at 9pm - this seems very late and a bit unfair for those with competitions early Saturday

    also i notice that SKY say the 24 extra channels will be available from Monday 23 July so will there be any programmes on these channels before Saturday?

  • Comment number 16.

    @marke09: yes, there will be very limited content on the 24 BBC Olympic channels on Sky, Freesat and Virgin before Saturday 28 July. But they will include services like the no-commentary and audio-description feeds of the Opening Ceremony.

  • Comment number 17.

    Will it strictly be one channel per sport or when space is available (such as pre-games) will things like football and other sports have multiple matches available - and once the athletics begins will there be separate feeds for field events or just one "athletics" feed?

  • Comment number 18.

    Most of the time it will be one channel per sport, though we're hoping to bring in track and field events separately on different channels during the athletics.

  • Comment number 19.

    #15 the timing of the ceremony is down to LOCOG and the IOC and not the BBC but twas ever thus and those competing on the Saturday generally don't attend the Opening Ceremony.

    Now that maybe unfair but it has been the situation for many past Games

    Roger can I make a plea that the 'commentary free' version of the ceremony be on one of the freeview channels (301/302) and not an internet based one so people have an opportunity to record it.

  • Comment number 20.

    Lots of questions for Roger:

    Could you please update to mention channels 302 and 304? Similarly, fails to mention BBC Interactive 1-5 (service names 6711 to 6715) in the DSAT 7 section and where's the 48 Olympics channels (24 HD/24 SD) on that page too? I can see a lot of test Olympics channels on satellite, but it's not clear if they'll be moved to a "final" position somewhere else.

    Also, you mention midnight and 1.00am as possible ending times for broadcasts, but can you be more precise (overruns notwithstanding)? For example, what's the earliest and latest times that live Olympics will be broadcast (excluding the opening/closing ceremonies) on the 24 HD channels?

    Also, what's the maximum number of simultaneous channels of the 24 that will be used? I'm guessing 24, but it might not be case!

    I'd also like to know how many HD hours are broadcast for the Olympics in total (assuming both Freesat and Freeview are available to the viewer). We've seen very vague quotes of "2,500 hours", but is that all HD and do you have a more exact figure?

  • Comment number 21.

    when the Olympic it will be a great event for the world .whole world is waiting for this

  • Comment number 22.

    I can already see it. We will cover everything and when I want to watch a certain replay or see a certain sport there will be nowhere on the TV or radio, that always happens to me, I am curious how BBC will do it this time.

  • Comment number 23.

    @rkl in #20: here's the schedule - and yes, we reckon a total of around 2500 hours of live sport, all in HD on the 24 BBC Olympic channels.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for the info Roger, though I'd already spotted that page (I think it might be defaulting to the more useful grid view now). A shame there's no CSV to download with the entire schedule on it though! Some page scraping and scripting shows that no event starts before 10:00 in the morning (this fact doesn't seem to have been mentioned anywhere!) and the latest event is Beach Volleyball, which finishes at 23:50 on several evenings. Hence, it appears that no event goes beyond midnight (excluding overruns), which is useful to know.

    It does look like there are multiple simultaneous sub-events in some sports outside of the athletics though - the very first set of women's football events on 25th July look to need a minimum of three simultaneous channels to cover them.

  • Comment number 25.

    Correction to that last post from me - Modern Pentathlon starts at 08:00 on 12th August (earliest start of any event and it's on the final day!) and several sports (Badminton, Shooting, Hockey, Wrestling) have starts before 09:00 too - it was a bug in my script :-(

  • Comment number 26.

    its a shame the schedule has not been updated to show which teams are playing who at certain times


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