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Now we are 10

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Ben Gallop Ben Gallop | 09:00 UK time, Saturday, 3 July 2010

What were you doing 10 years ago today? Here are some pointers that might give your memory a nudge...

France had just won Euro 2000, beating Italy in the climax to one of the great international football competitions. At Wimbledon we were witnessing the end of one era and the start of another, with Pete Sampras on his way to his seventh and final title, while Venus Williams was about to win her first.

I remember where I was on 3 July 2000 - holed up in a ramshackle, pre-fabricated adjunct to Television Centre (ah, the glamour of the media industry...) helping to put the finishing touches to the pages that would make up the first incarnation of the BBC Sport website.

BBC's Wimbledon 2000 webpage

This website launched exactly a decade ago, the day after Euro 2000 finished. So I hope you'll forgive me a spot of reminiscing to sit alongside the usual future-gazing that comes with this job.

The start of the new millennium was the height of the dotcom bubble and a team of us, possibly behaving in a very un-BBC fashion, were attempting to act like a classic internet start-up. The aim was to bring editorial, design and software development skills together to exploit the new technology and provide a whole new platform for BBC Sport.

But we weren't starting from scratch. The BBC News website had already been around for a few years by that stage - and sport was one of its many sub-sections. But the plan was to provide a more comprehensive sporting offer - in effect to create a comparable 'back page' to the formidable front page that was BBC News Online.

BBC Sport's partnership with News has been one of the stand-out features since those early days. The two sites remain the most popular sections of BBC Online and we continue to share much in common - editorial content, look-and-feel and audiences.

But much has changed over that 10-year period. The Sport site soon moved on from being simply a collection of sports news stories. Live coverage of events is now just as important - from our text commentaries for Test match cricket to the rich multi-media services we can provide for big BBC showpieces like the World Cup. The spread of broadband has meant video is a significant part of the offer, while blogs like this one have switched the focus to dynamic debate.

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As we look back, here are 10 facts for the first 10 years of the BBC Sport website, courtesy of my colleague 'Honest' Frank Keogh:

1. Record breakers: Nearly six million users visited the site on the day England beat Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup. Six years ago, during Euro 2004, the record at the time was two million.

2. Audio/Video: During the World Cup, the number of people accessing video or audio on the site peaked at a daily figure of 1.5m.


3. Star names: Website columnists down the years have included Rugby World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, Britain's top tennis player Andy Murray and England footballer Owen Hargreaves.

4. Poulter's pants: Golfer Ian Poulter sported a special pair of trousers, with an Open trophy slant, after a competition winner came up with the design for his first-round outfit.

5. 606: Since the service started where people can comment, debate or create their own articles, it has attracted more than 38m individual posts.

6. Champions: Website bloggers Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs invented their own sporting title, the Ubogu World Championship, where people have to say the name of the former England rugby union star as many times as they can in one breath.

7. One team: Until a restructure in 2004, Ceefax and website staff wrote separate sports stories for each service. Reports for the website, digital text, Ceefax and mobile phones are now written just once.

Victor Ubogu, Tom Fordyce

8. Comment: More than 1,500 people commented on a blog by BBC director of Olympics Roger Mosey on the mascots for the 2012 Games.

9. Write lines: An A-level English student is doing a dissertation on Caroline Cheese's live football text commentaries.

10. Around the world: On an average day, around two-thirds of website users are from the UK, with the international audience making up the remaining 30% or so.

I suppose if you had to distil those 10 points down into one theme, it would be the old truism that the media industry is in the middle of a revolution.

And it's been a decade of technological change within sport too.

Take the story of Wimbledon since 2000. It may have a reputation for being as traditional a sporting competition as you could possibly imagine, with its pristine lawns, quaint queuing etiquette and the absence of corporate signage - but the reality is that the All England Club has managed to enhance its standing as the world's premier tennis tournament by subtly blending that tradition with some strategic modernisation. So the grass remains, but now the Centre Court has its spectacular roof to keep play going through all conditions - while the introduction of Hawkeye has removed disputes over line calls and provided an extra dose of drama for the crowds (are you watching, Herr Blatter?).

And across sport, fans now play a more active part in proceedings than they ever did before. So Formula 1 this week held its first 'fans' forum', sponsored by Fota, the teams' umbrella organisation. Spectators had the chance to grill the likes of McLaren and Ferrari and offer their own views on how to improve 'the show'. There seems a genuine willingness to engage with the public - as witnessed by Lotus boss Mike Gascoyne now providing his own version of live text commentaries on Twitter: real-time, personal updates direct from the pitwall. That kind of activity was unthinkable back in 2000.

Gascoyne is not alone in sport to have discovered the power of Twitter - Andy Murray is another prolific tweeter and you start to wonder how long it will be before someone like him is actually sending messages to their fans in between points.

So what of the next 10 years? You don't need to be a new media guru to work out that social networking, mobile browsing and emergent IPTV services like Project Canvas are likely to continue to boom and, you would imagine, provide innovative ways to both cover and consume sport. But I'd love to know where you think things are headed - or what has appealed to you most in the decade since those heady days of Euro 2000.

Who knows? Such is the cycle of sport that by 2020 France might even be quite good at football again...


  • Comment number 1.

    Happy birthday to a part of the BBC that's worth the licence fee on its own. I think a special mention should go to the live text commentaries that have become a staple of the site and when good, are very very good.

    I look forward to the next ten years of innovation and success.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would love for the BBC Sport website to keep doing what it has done for the past decade: providing both "wide" and "deep" coverage of sport with the highest of standards. Unfortunately the BBC's online services look like they will take quite a heavy hit in the upcoming spending cuts, as outlined by the BBC Trust's review earlier this year.

    Happy birthday!

  • Comment number 3.

    Happy Birthday, BBC Sport!

    Over the past decade I've found your articles, features and blog posts to be invaluable resources as I try to keep up with my favourite sports around the world.

    Well done, and keep up the excellent work...

  • Comment number 4.

    The best sports website by far. Keep it up! I hope the sport's editor does not go and ruin 10 years of hard work by making pointless changes.

    Happy Birthday!

  • Comment number 5.

    Congratulations on being ten years old!

    I 'discovered' BBC sport website about seven years ago and there will have been few days since that I have not, at the very least, scanned the sports headlines.

    I also echo what Oli said, the live text feature has become a great way of following sport after actually being there or watching on TV. It's much better than radio coverage, except possibly, TMS.

  • Comment number 6.

    Congratulations to the BBC.
    Now, perhaps it's time to consider treating sports a touch more equitably; great to have all the footie coverage, understandable that you're so infatuated with F1, but is it not reasonable to expect the same sort of journalistic effort and excellence for less popular sports?
    Non-Wimbledon tennis? Or golf for instance??
    Anyway, love the Live Texts and 606.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done the BBC. Another winner!

  • Comment number 8.

    Happy B'Day BBC Sport. This website has been like my right-hand guy in debates. Which has been advantageous 'most' of the time.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have lived in this country for 15 years and since 2000 I have missed very few days when I have not visited the website(news/sports/technology). If it ain't on the it ain't true, thats what I always say! Well done guys, fantastic, simply fantastic work. Keep it up.

  • Comment number 10.

    10 years of success - however a recent move to get rid of the two most talented writers on the website (Chris Charles and Robbo) leads me to question what state you will be in in another ten

  • Comment number 11.

    Happy Birthday!

    The live text function has become absolutely invaluable in the last few years but my personal highlight must be BBC Sport's coverage of the Beijing Olympics...superb!

  • Comment number 12.

    The fact that I, and I imagine many other sports fans, enter '' into their web browser before any other URL each morning is testament to its success over the past ten years.

    Great work.

    P.s. Sue Barker looks a lot younger on the print screen above doesn't she?! Probably about ten years younger...

  • Comment number 13.

    Happy 10th Birthday !!!
    This website has been really useful for people around the World following live sports news & Live Commentary.

  • Comment number 14.

    My favourite sports website. Still sad that you allowed Robbo & Chris Charles to go and offered no explanation. They left with more respect than you retained.

  • Comment number 15.

    Let's hope that the next ten years bring a higher standard of sporting journalism to the BBC. I'm a keen follower of tennis - the BBC journalists clearly are not - the number of basic factual errors that they make gives this away. The errors are a sure sign that the writers are not interested in the sport so I suggest that they go and do something else with their lives. The other thing that I would like to see changed is the almost automatic rejection by the BBC (particularly moderators) that the corporation could be making mistakes. The paying public deserves that you accept when you make mistakes and rectify them.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well Done guys. Honestly can say without exception the best website i use and worth every penny of its license fee proportion. keep it up please.

  • Comment number 17.

    I like the services you provide, but as an expat overseas user I'm irratated by the random nature of what video is and isn't available in my area. I understand there are bandwith issues, but why can't we overseas users just sit through a few seconds of advertising, as is the case with BBC News Online?

  • Comment number 18.

    I hope that over the next few months, never mind years, we could get coverage of woman's sport. The only active sportsperson in my family (two daughters and seven nephews and nieces) is my daughter who plays hockey. Never see a word about it unless at the Olypics. Plenty about American Football and Basketball. Perhaps an e-mail to the sex discrimination people instead of writing here, methinks.

  • Comment number 19.

    Happy Birthday BBC. However I urge you to bring Chris Charles back. His 2 columns were a hit with the readers and taking them away is just not the right thing to do.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nice article!

    Can you tell me if it is possible in the future to acess Radio 5 live and receive all the video footage living outside the UK. I currently live and work in Shanghai and I visit this site everyday. I get frustrated sometimes when I can't access all the information and the radio commentary. E.g. Football Focus on Saturday ... I watch the video on Friday.

    Getting the radio (especially 5 live ... I download some of the ipod info ... but this is not the same) would be perfect for me as I could listen to the football here in China.

    I understand we are subject to licence fee etc, but could we not pay a reduced fee to access the full site (e.g. a web site fee so we can keep a closer contact and get more information re our favourite sports?)

  • Comment number 21.

    Many happy returns.

    As someone posted above, the BBC sport website is one that I check fairly promptly each day.

    The only sad thing is that it makes the 4:30 rush to Dixons (or other similar high street electrical retailer) on a Saturday unecessary, what with most of us having an internet on their mobile phone.

    Please don't cut down any more content, I've missed the Quotes of the Week dearly since it's gone. Robbo however is better now he's unedited...

    All in all, many congrats.

  • Comment number 22.

    FANTASTIC 10 years. The f1 website is by far the best on the sport website

  • Comment number 23.

    The issues over content being available overseas is less to do with bandwith than it is to do with rights. The BBC buys online rights for the UK, so can show all of its videos there. The Premier League, FIFA and everyone else sell their online rights all around the world, and wouldn't think it fair if the BBC were to stream free highlights all around the world.

  • Comment number 24.

    Happy birthday, BBC Sport! Overall, it's been a great 10 years, though not without its problems (mostly a few shoddy blogs). Let's use the next decade to strive for perfection and eliminate those!

  • Comment number 25.

    Happy birthday. I find this part pf the website very enjoyable and useful.

  • Comment number 26.

    Belated Birthday felicitations.

    Whether illicitly viewing your site at work between customers or overseas travelling, your site is always, always the first I check. Many thanks for the last ten years and here's to the next ten.

    Good on yer.

  • Comment number 27.

    The F1 page needs to change. The background makes it look completely cluttered... its horrible.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well into my final year as a teen and as an enthusiast sports fan i love the depth and precision of the coverage. Your actually my homepage so good work :)

    To another 10 years (assuming internet is still used) :P

  • Comment number 29.

    Live text has revolutionised the way I watch my sport. I love it.

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    Have to say it's my first port of call even if my blog doesn't go up here anymore. Robbo.

  • Comment number 32.

    Happy Birthday BBC Sport, as #1 said, worth the licence fee alone.

    Have to say the Fordyce/Dirs coverage of RWC 2007 was a personal highlight from the last decade. Great banter.

  • Comment number 33.

    I notice number 8 on your list being comments,and how 1500 was reached for one blog.This was a figure regularly exceeded on the Robbo Robson blog(whom I notice is above me waiting to have his comment moderated).So I'd like to add Robbo Robsons blog to your list.

  • Comment number 34.

    10 years old, and with each passing year steadily turning more and more into a mindless tabloid


  • Comment number 35.

    Bring back Robbo!

    As you can see above, he clearly wants to come back!!

    Happy Birthday all the same.

    Also Jacks, good to hear from you mate.

  • Comment number 36.

    In reference to point number 8 - 1500 posts.

    Well one of the blogs by Robbo Robson has over 3900 posts!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Thanks for all your comments - it's genuinely heartening to see so many positive responses. It's been a busy few weeks for BBC Sport, so it's good to know there's appreciation for what we've been doing on the major events and big sport stories.
    Having said that, we are absolutely not complacent. There is much more we need to do - in terms of both continuing to drive up the basic standards of our day-to-day output and providing further innovations to improve what we do.
    In terms of some of your specific points:
    #15, FairPlayMotty - sorry you feel there are too many errors on the site. We do all we can to ensure the content is free from mistakes - but to reassure you, the editorial team working for BBC Sport are passionate about what they do, with an in-depth understanding across a range of sports.
    #17, beeahr - as Paul Faithfull states in #23, the reason a large amount of video content on the Sport site is not available overseas is due to rights arrangements, rather than bandwidth issues. It's just the nature of many of our deals with rights-holders, who prefer to secure agreements on a territory-by-territory basis. So we often have rights to particular sports on all platforms within the UK - and other foreign broadcasters will cover those same sports in their own countries. I do realise this can be a source of irritation for many people using the site outside the UK, but I hope you understand why we can't make all our video available overseas.
    #18, ZSGWS - you make a good point about coverage of women's sport. We do give a lot of thought to this issue - and again, I'm not for a minute going to say we always get it exactly right. But I also think it's worth pointing out what we do cover. So there are events, like tennis in general and Wimbledon in particular, where we give significant coverage to the women's game. Similarly with Olympic disciplines (including the most popular sports like athletics, cycling, swimming and athletics), women are rightly at the heart of our coverage. When it comes to some of the more established team sports, like football, cricket and rugby, I'm clearly not going to pretend we offer equal levels of coverage to women as men - however, we do provide regular stories, features and statistics on women's teams in these sports. And it's worth adding that we look closely at audience research to make sure the tone, content and balance of our coverage is commensurate with what people want from BBC Sport.
    #24, Geordie2004 - thanks for the congratulations, though I'd be keen to know which blogs you feel don't quite cut it.
    #27, deperer - sorry you think the F1 page looks cluttered. Just so you're aware, we're reviewing the look-and-feel of the overall website with an eye to improve the layout and navigation, so that people can find the most important content. More to come on that - but we'll be looking at F1 as part of the whole process.
    And a number of you have mentioned Robbo - including, it would appear, the great man himself (comment #31). As the person responsible for bringing Robbo to the BBC Sport website nine years ago, I will always have great affection for 'the Tees Mouth'. He served this website with distinction, providing his own individual take on the sporting agenda. If you're interested, we addressed the issue of Robbo on a previous Sports Editors Blog:
    Anyway, thanks again for taking an interest,

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    Folks - just to explain, the post above was removed because it was posted on the wrong blog by mistake and would've been confusing if it had remained. Sorry!

  • Comment number 40.

    Now left with only one prediction - will Spain defy or fall in line of predictions by Octopus the Paul? Read from the blog in the following weblink


  • Comment number 41.

    Lodon Ollympic game will be a great event in British history. As a college student in 2008 beijing the famous word Stimulate passion and Light dream listened by every resident in all cities.Volenteers try their best to serve foreigh visitors. they are selected by the local university. In TV pogramme ,the broadcaster improve the support of audiences. when a foreign sport competitive athlete get the fist place, the report will introduce the background of his growth. china perform a very exciting sports event in front of all people in world.Gerenally speaking fisetly)the local ethnic character is a outstanding point for LOndon .secondly)distinguish youth volenteer will be main resource to influence every travler.
    As one coin has two sides ,at one hand British people should put attantion to enhance the quality of air in LONDON. AT another hand the London citizens should learn the useful experience in beijing.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    Well was fantastic 10 years. Hope will remember again in 10 years about what we did in 2010. Happy Bday BBC Sports. Btw you forgot to say who won TDF 2000. Of course the winner was Lance Armstrong who beat Ullrich with over 6 minutes.


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