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Broadcasting revolution of the digital Olympics

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Ben Gallop Ben Gallop | 14:21 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2012

So the party's over, but the clean-up goes on.

While the past few weeks of the Olympics have been incredibly special, the work doesn't let up for BBC Sport. Alongside the huge network TV viewing figures we have seen unprecedented audience numbers for our digital services - and the challenge now is how we build on what we have seen in London for our week-in, week-out online sports coverage.

Big sporting events have traditionally been the catalyst for change in broadcasting - from the advent of colour TV to the introduction of HD - and I'd like to think what we have seen during London 2012 will have a bearing on how sport is covered in the future.

So we're already planning our next steps, such as:

• Enhancing our mobile offering, including the introduction of a BBC Sport app for smartphones;
• Taking some time to develop online video for live sport, following the success of London 2012; and
• Building a genuine, effective 'connected TV' service - ultimately to replace the red button, which has served us well in the past, but which is due to be scaled back in the coming months - and learning the lessons from the special 24 channels we had during the Olympics.

When we began our digital Olympics project, back in 2005 after London won the right to stage the Games, we came up with a phrase to describe our ambition. We wanted the 2012 Olympics to do for digital media what the Coronation had done for TV. In other words, to be the moment when it moved from the preserve of 'early adopters' (I'm not sure they were called that back in 1953) into the mainstream.

The reason we felt optimistic was down to the timing. From a digital perspective we were lucky that the BBC got to broadcast a home Olympics in 2012. If the Games had come to the UK in 2008 it would have been slightly too early, the technology and audience behaviour wasn't quite ready back then. Similarly if it had been in 2016, the moment would probably have passed. As it was, 2012 felt perfect: it was when the UK was due to switch off analogue TV and move to a fully digital landscape. It looked like being the 'sweet-spot' where technology and audience uptake were set to converge.

Much has changed in the intervening seven years, of course. Back in 2005 there were no tablets. Mobiles, for the vast majority of people, were just for making calls and texting. Only around half of UK households had digital TV. Social media was in its infancy - Facebook was only starting to pick up momentum; Twitter didn't even exist.

By 2012 viewers were ready for a new type of sports coverage - and, crucially, more of us have the kit and access to the signal we needed to enjoy the full Olympic experience.

That comparison with the Coronation has served as useful journalistic shorthand: a reminder to all of us at the BBC that public broadcasters have a duty to deliver big national events on behalf of the whole population. It's too early of course to tell whether we have witnessed something as seismic as the original surge in TV viewing back in 1953. But it does feel that we have seen significant change over the past few weeks.

London 2012 has proved to be a spur for a new type of media consumption: fully connected at all times, on-demand and on-the-go. The statistics are pretty bold, with 39 million UK browsers of BBC Sport, around a third of whom were accessing us on mobile devices.

But the anecdotal evidence is just as powerful. I have heard tales of TV viewers in their 90s using the Red Button for the first time, such was the pull of the sport on offer. I watched in amazement as a whole carriage on a train crowded round three different mobile screens to see Usain Bolt win his 200m gold. And you are reminded that this is now part of the national conversation when even the fabled front page of Private Eye is referencing the Red Button, This then genuinely did feel mainstream.

The key mission for our coverage was that you would 'never miss a moment' - built around offering every sport as it happened; a total of 2,500 hours of video in up to 24 different video streams at any one time. Across the 17 days of the Games, some 24m viewers watched at least 15 minutes of our Red Button service - and what was particularly gratifying is that all the different sports proved to be a draw for the audience, with each of those 24 'channels' receiving at least 100,000 viewers at some point.

Here are the peak audiences for each of the top 20 sports on Red Button (excluding Freeview numbers):

Table showing 20 most popular Olympics streams

Beyond the phenomenal surge in multi-event viewing there have been other developments in sports coverage that we're tracking.

We are continuing to see the rise of live blogging or, as we prefer to call it at BBC Sport, live text commentary. These pages were the most popular on our London 2012 site - the classic one-stop shop where our journalists could capture all the stories from the panoply of Olympic sports. Essentially they represent a new form of story-telling: dynamic, bite-sized and interactive, with audience comments at the heart of them. They are the bedrock of our coverage of football, cricket and other big sports and we are always looking to take them to another level.

Then there is social media. This was the Olympics where Twitter made a huge impact.

As well as being the place where Olympians interacted with their armies of fans, Twitter has established itself, in pretty short order, as a key element of the journalist's armoury. We use it as an additional way for our reporters to get news and comment out there quickly - and to monitor stories from elsewhere.

BBC Sport used Twitter extensively during the Games, from taking photos of police officers mimicking Usain Bolt's trademark pose to sparking 4,000 retweets from Dutch fans after we linked their thrashing of Team GB's hockey team to their earlier dressage defeat.

But my personal favourite tweet during London 2012 was from our chief sports writer, Tom Fordyce. In seven words it summed up the sheer disbelief that many of us felt at what we were seeing from Team GB - plus that peculiar ability of sports fans to switch from despondency to arrogance at the flick of a switch. It read simply:

'World: can we play you every week?'


  • Comment number 1.

    Brilliant to see not only the Games venues so full, but also the BBC coverage so varied. It shows the arrogance of football when it claims that it's the only sport that can fill venues.

    I'd love to see this enthusiasm for more sports be translated on the BBC to a return of Grandstand in some way.

  • Comment number 2.

    @1 Completely agree. Bring back Ski Sunday too!

    Coverage for the Olympics was brilliantly done by the BBC. There were various times where information wasn't as readily available on the screen as I would like (toad cycling for instance didn't offer enough interval information) but understand the BBC are hostage to what they get on that front. All in all though, this is comfortably the best coverage of a sporting event I have ever seen and I hope that going forwards there is more coverage of events like this.

  • Comment number 3.

    Very interesting and I certainly agree with the previous comment that the Olympic broadcasting experience should be a 'wake up call' for football, both from the point of view of broadcasters and those who run the game itself. Interesting to speculate on how many of the current popular social networks, Twitter, Facebook, will still be around for Rio in 2016, possibly replaced by something new. Could London 2012 have been both the first and last Twitter Olympics?

  • Comment number 4.

    Toad cycling! Now there's an event to savour. :)

  • Comment number 5.

    Truly great multi channel coverage of the Olympics by the BBC. Bear in mind though that the real stars are the sports that don't see the light of day on the BBC outside of the Olympics.

    Invest more heavily in cycling coverage, athletics (and of course Ski Sunday) and we'll continue to show the next generation of sports stars that there is life outside of the respectless money pit of football.

  • Comment number 6.

    Love that photo of police officers doing the Usain Bolt salute. Captures the spirit of the London Olympics

  • Comment number 7.

    Although I agree that the live coverage accross the multitude of red button channels was fantastic, unquestionably the best coverage of any event I've ever seen, I was disapointed by the scarcity of round-up or highlights programs.

    I often got home from work thinking "right, what have I missed today?" Yes there were loads of interviews and talking about our successes, but hardly any action was replayed. For instance I never saw Jess Ennis's 800m race in it's entirety - It was only 2 minutes long but we only got replays of the last 200m and hours of talking about it!

  • Comment number 8.

    Surely this is an opportunity for the BBC to go out there and spend relatively small amounts of money picking up coverage of lesser sports, with a view to only showing them online. We are already doing it with F1 and to a much lesser extent with Triathlon (probably to do with the Brownlee's success the last couple of years) why not offer this across a range of sports where Team GB has done well?

  • Comment number 9.

    The Olympic coverage was certainly very good indeed but I'm still stinging from the F1 broadcast contact that was torn up to help finance it all.

    Also, I wonder about which sports the BBC will have left to warrant the kind of coverage mentioned here. No Football, Cricket or other popular sports are contracted to the BBC and Formula One coverage has been scaled back to a shadow of it's former self. I will be interested to see how the BBC develops their ideas.

  • Comment number 10.

    Grandstand has already been mentioned but what about university sport, which covers a wide variety and could encourage younger people in particular, whilst already having a competition structure? Grandstand could perhaps move to a monday night say 8-9 or 10 on BBC2 or if everyone has digital then 3 or 4 or the red button. You could round-up a variety if sports plus focus on one or two and have some analysis also.

    The other thing would be to have more sporty gameshows, etc. I'm sure there was something on tv where they had to cycle on a treadmill then the bleep test and then row, plus channel 4 had 'the games' with celebrities doing a kind of decathlon. And wasn't there something called Superstars (I'm only 25!).

    Lots of potential to have sport other than football and F1 (particularly when BBC can't afford full live coverage of either! ;)

  • Comment number 11.

    I really think one of the reasons the whole of the UK got engaged with the Olympics and it's spirit was the variety of coverage. Great work BBC plus especially good was the relationship with Sky meaning that all the BBC red button streams were available in HD to sky subscribers. In previous years the olympics ended up being all about athletics and Rowing (with cycling coming up in the last few years) this was because the viewing technology wasn't quite there so broadcasters stuck with sports where we would most likely win a medal. From a viewers perspective London 2012 was the first olympics where you could get involved in every sport from Handball to heavyweight boxing, archery to table tennis irrelevant of whether team gb were favourites or not.

  • Comment number 12.

    Just a suggestion for the BBC sport app. Android have phased out Flash on the latest operating systems, it was rather annoying being unable to watch the coverage online because my new 7" tablet was unable to play the video. Maybe make all the mobile platform stuff flash free. (Apple have never used flash so now no-one uses it on their top version of mobile operating systems).

  • Comment number 13.

    #8 (Paul Fitz) - agreed, there are lots of sports which would benefit hugely from even a small amount of BBC coverage & money. In fact for all those that think football is the be-all and end-all, coverage of womens football would be ideal as the BBC can't afford the cynical and over-hyped mens football any more...

  • Comment number 14.

    Congratulations to the BBC for their Olympic Broadcast, although I hate to find out what my electricity bill is going to be like!!!

    What I would like, especially from a football point of view, is to be able to select the live football match I want to see, rather than have a hand picked match that another certain channel chooses as the match of the weekend. After all, I pay for the television licence and the subscriptions to view the sport!!

    Maybe I am asking too much!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    The app was brilliant, I couldnt get in the pub for the 200m final, but was able to stream on my phone from a restaurant. On the days when we were travelling to events we were able to stream the early rounds on the way.

    Overall the coverage was smart, vast and absolutely packed in content, when other stations would be having ad breaks we were being treated to replays, routines missed or fabulous analysis from past and current athletes.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 16.

    BBC coverage was amazing. The app on my iPhone was an absolute marvel and kept me in touch throughout the entire 2 weeks. 1 or 2 comments though:

    Why were there no replays of sessions on the 24 channels? There was ample opportunity to do this but it never materialised

    Why were the 24 channels not advertised? I list to Radio 2 and 5 Live and watch BBC channels but never once was it mentioned that on Sky all 24 channels were broadcast starting at channel 450. It took us 2 days to find them and others that we know only find them a week into the games when we told them about it. Surely this capability should have been shouted about very loudly.

    Overall though to coverage was fantastic. I only hope the Paralympics get the same treatment and that Rio 2016 with get the same if not better service

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with all that's been said about BBC's Olympic coverage. Whilst the viewing was excellent, what on earth happened to the commentary on red button coverage? We could hear background noise, spectators etc. but no Commentators.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think the last two weeks has demonstrated how popular live sport is on free to air, if Sky had the olympics not many people would have got to see it and a generation would hardly have been inspired, so why have you taken and are still taking live sport away from the people paying you their license fee!

  • Comment number 19.

    @salisburyowl - It was advertised but only quite close to the games for some reason. Also I only ever saw the advert on ITV at really random time or on Sky Sports channels, I agree the sky partenrship could have done with a lot more promotion.

  • Comment number 20.

    While I agree whole heartedly that the BBC coverage was great - and I was glued to my set at all opportunities - I do think it's a great shame is that even after digital switch over those 24 channels were not available to people who get their digital signal through a standard aerial setup.

    I have a decent TV with Freeview HD being fed by a roof top aerial and only received red button coverage on 301, 302 and 303 and one of those was an HD duplicate. Given the licence fee is equal for all, then there should be equal availability to all digital offerings from the BBC. We shouldn't need to subscribe to additional cable/satellite services in order to be able to view these - unless of course the BBC starts to implement its own subscription service.

  • Comment number 21.

    I live in a digital TV blackspot, so I had access to a limited few of the 24 red button channels.

    On the other hand, with my tablet, I watched tons of live or "catch-up" sports via the BBC website. I think this is the way TV is going: streaming content, everywhere, anytime.

    Thank you for the excellent coverage, for having put it all online, easily accessible etc etc.

    Now I hope that my TV licence number (which I gladly pay, btw) will allow me to log on to the BBC services while I am abroad!

    It is a main gripe of mine that while wintering in the continent I am prevented from listening to my beloved TMS.

  • Comment number 22.

    The 24 channels and online availability of streams was great. The dedicated channels were made known to me by an email from Sky two or three weeks before the Olympics began and the Olympic Radio Times had complete listings for them so there is no real excuse for not knowing. The BBC Olympics Android app was terrible though. It would never work via mobile network and even on a strong WiFi signal gave a not connected message. After a couple of uninstall and reinstalls I gave up and used the official London 2012 results app which was much better.

  • Comment number 23.

    The BBC's coverage (on TV, radio and online) was superb. A selection of knowledgeable presenters and experts who explained their sports very well.
    Sadly, we now have to suffer MOTD, with Alan Shearer giving us amazing insights such as "he looks a real player", Harry Redknapp describing everyone as "t'riffic" and Mark Lawrenson's constant moaning.
    Can't the BBC see that there is demand for intelligently presented sport, rather than the lowest common denominator approach of football?

  • Comment number 24.

    BBC coverage was indeed excellent. It shamed NBC in America who had apalling coverage in comparison. BBC was helped by the equally excellent BT WIFI coverage in the Olympic park. ON my visit I saw people in the stadium on their iPads/phones watching live coverage on the BBC from the Cycling or hockey! Also I popped in to Starbucks one afternoon during a break in work and again people were sipping latte's and watching on their phones. This is the modern way! Well done BBC (and BT)

  • Comment number 25.

    @2 Totally agree, wonderful coverage, Can't believe I missed the 'Toad Cycling' though that must have been an awesome event ;P

  • Comment number 26.

    Great coverage, online and on digital. For the first time ever Bruce Springsteen wouldn't have to shoot his TV. There was good review programming and the enthusiasm of the commentators and pundits was a joy. Except for football where the pundits seemed lost in the past.

    I also would love to watch Toad Cycling....

  • Comment number 27.

    @20 and @21 I use freesat and all 24 channels were available there so I was able to watch what I wanted. I agree totally with what everyone else is saying, the BBC coverage of the Olympics was superb and comprehensive. I also agree with what some other people have been saying about using some of these channels to broadcast some of the sports that we get very little of outside of the Olympics such as Hockey, Handball, Volleyball etc. I'm not sure if there is enough demand to each to have a dedicated channel but what about 1 channel dedicated to these minority sports (maybe include skiing etc during the winter).

  • Comment number 28.

    I'd also like to thank and congratulate the BBC on pulling off a very ambitious broadcast of all the Olympics' events (congrats also to OBS for providing the pictures) - I was glued to the TV (and my computer at work) pretty much from waking up until going to bed and was impressed by the professionalism of the presenters and commentators.

    The 24 extra channels were a fantastic chance to follow the events in extra depth (breaks in commentary would have been due to handovers from BBC1/3 presenters, and "natural" breaks, I imagine?) and I'd like to see this technology broadened for future sporting events covered by the BBC.

    My only gripe was that I was by the side of the Box Hill circuit for the road (toad?!!) cycling and nobody could access the online App to find out what was happening during the race (but on playback, it looked like Hugh Porter and Chris Boardman didn't have the info either!). I'm not sure whether this was down to a lack of bandwidth on the BBC server or the local network coverage.

    I was enraged when the BBC sold its F1 contract to Sky, but I'm now grateful that they put their resources into broadcasting a once-in-a-lifetime event, which I'll always fondly look back on.

  • Comment number 29.

    As someone who competes in a "minority sport" (Sailing), I can only think that a big part of the Olympic legacy for our sport was the incredible exposure provided by the additional mainstream coverage it recieved. A large part of the credit has to go to the BBC's interactive coverage. Half a million watching Ben Ainslie's medal race is just incredible for raising the awareness of the sport.

    However, I cant help but feel that this legacy may fizzle out, unless some form of coverage continues for sailing, and other similar minority sports. Surely bringing back Grandstand would be a very simple way of maintaing this sort of interest, and judging by the other comments would also be a hugely popular move!

  • Comment number 30.

    The amount and quality of the live coverage was brilliant.

    However I agree with #7, replays of full action for those of us coming home of an evening was scarce. Replays of sessions (or extended highlights) wouldn't have been appreciated on the extra channels on which there was usually space at some point.

    This did mean I probably spent too long glued to the excellent live text coverage whilst at work!

  • Comment number 31.

    I would certainly like the BBC to do more to promote the sports mentioned but even if the rights were cheap covering them would not be. The simple question is are people willing to pay more in the License Fee to cover the costs? There's no point in whining about star salaries or suggesting they cut programmes that you don't like because there were will be plenty of others who feel the opposite.
    Much like our Olympic athletes the will and talent is there but are we prepared to fund it?

  • Comment number 32.

    I can't quite agree with the almost universal eulogizing over the BBC's coverage. Too many times I heard commentators either wrongly calling events or being somewhat behind the action. A number of presenters were ill informed about the sports they were meant to be covering, the text commentary was patchy to say the least, and don't get me started on Matt Bacon or Jake Humphrey... If I were to give marks, it would be solid 7 out of 10, tried to do a little bit too much which dragged the overall experience down.

  • Comment number 33.

    I watched the extra channels on Freesat, indeed my only criticism is that there was too much sport on!
    I enjoyed watching sports such as Handball and Hockey, surely rights to show some more wouldn't be expensive, would fill the BBC's remit to show so-called minority activities, and fill the schedule up nicely, when not on the red button! Basketball gets no terrestial TV coverage currently, yet the Olympic final is always one of the hottest tickets.

  • Comment number 34.

    I did an in-depth Google search for the game show I was talking about in '10.', and apparently it was called Body Heat and was only on TV (ITV) from July 1994 to December 1996 (when I would have been aged 7-9). Remember thinking it was epic, and I reckon with some decent celebrities launching it it would be a decent Saturday evening entertainment programme to capitalise on the Olympic fever. Can't find any video clips annoyingly, but it's lodged in my memory at least!!

  • Comment number 35.

    At times the BBC's coverage was excellent. At other times there seemed to be a complete neglect for viewers (like me) who only had freeview and an internet connection which was apparently to slow to actually stream anything. The most annoyed I got was when they decided to show the dressage instead of the cycling not just on BBC 1 but simultaneously on the one red button channel I had and on BBC news 24. Channel 7 had the gymnastics on. So I missed Pendleton's semi-finals races in the sprint because the BBC decided to show horses prancing on three channels at once. As if that wasn't bad enough, when they did go back to the cycling they decided to show a replay of the sprint semi-finals so that I then missed 90% of the penultimate race in the omnium (though I did have Jake Humphrey telling me I could watch it on a digital station I didn't have access to).

    Other decisions that really got me annoyed included breaking away from some live event or other to show us an advert about how because the BBC service was so great we didn't need to miss anything (seriously!) and breaking away from live sport to give us interviews with members of the royal family. Not only do I not want to hear from the royal family, there was no need whatsoever to show the interview live in place of the live sport.

    Overall the Olympics were great (10/10), much of the commentary and analysis was great (8/10) but the editorial decisions of what to show on what channels and and what times was at times absolutely and utterly atrocious (2/10).

  • Comment number 36.

    @4 & 25
    What? You guys missed the toad cycling?! Pfft. You missed a treat!

  • Comment number 37.

    Was Toad Cycling at the Velodrome or Aquatic center?

  • Comment number 38.

    Right, first up a (fairly small) gripe. Freeview viewers, who I'm aware were always going to be at the bottom of the pile got some fairly rough deals throughout these Olympics. The times where "analysis" was going on on BBC1, and BBC3 and the red button were showing the same feed annoyed me. Especially when big Team GB hopes were in action elsewhere.

    (short) rant over, honestly it has been a fantastic experience, watching these games. I thoroughly enjoyed flitting between sports on the dedicated ps3 app - which I hope is going to be utilised during events like Wimbledon, Grands Prix that the BBC has full access to and so forth.

    The live text commentary has been amazing, as informative and irreverent as cricket and football fans have come to expect down the years.

    Take a bow BBC, you've done us all proud.

  • Comment number 39.

    I have a TV but my freeview box blew up before the Olympics and so I watched all
    the action on BBC Sports online. What a great service. No buffering an instant stream.

    Thank you BBC. You made my olympics so much better

  • Comment number 40.

    killer_and_flash @33

    Yes your probably right about the cost of obtaining the rights for some sports being reasonable but that is the easy part. The actual cost to screen them would be the stumbling block, outside broadcasts have never come cheaply.

    All round i do believe the BBC made a wonderful show of presenting the Olympics.

    Christopher Hewerd @10

    Years ago University sport was shown on TV such as Rugby but not on a regular basis. There was also a time when the National Association of Youth Clubs had their sporting events on although that was mainly football.

  • Comment number 41.

    BBC Sport please listen to the people and bring back Grandstand

  • Comment number 42.

    Following on from mine at 10 and post 40, BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) provides decent quality sport which could be rounded up from time to time, and then in March (at least in 2012) they have a long weekend of sport:

    Lots of potential, particularly to inspire people about to move to university, who could be inspired to take up lesser-known sports at university (all that potential from those people that until now have only done football, or potentially rugby, cricket and athletics).

  • Comment number 43.

    Is it a legal requirement now that if you wish to praise the Olympics it must be immediately followed by a snide sarcastic dig at Football?

  • Comment number 44.

    It was consistently brilliant coverage. I believe that there would be a real interest in sports such as Handball, Basketball and Hockey (and others) having their regular seasons broadcast. It would also help to maintain the profile and interest in these sports - a real public service.

  • Comment number 45.

    I too suffered from only having Freeview - was frustrating at times, when two sports being shown on same channel and 302 seemed to be barely utilised. Therefore I was thrilled with it all being available online - there were times when I had my tv on showing one sport and my laptop showing another simultaneously, particulary the rhythmic gymnastics and dressage!

  • Comment number 46.

    Where I live it was Rubbish coverage. Half events shown. What was supposed to be on the red button was somthing else. The only event that got full coverage was football. Sorry BBC big failure here. The BBC have responded that it will get better. Bit late our home olympics has gone. We all want the end to the TV licence fee. Parliament has been informed. For us in this area BBC you were rubbish. I object to being forced to pay a TV licence fee. It was that bad BBC.

  • Comment number 47.

    Broadcasting revolution? How is that going to be possible for the BBC, what with them losing sports left, right and centre, instead opting to fund rubbish like The Voice and yet-another-detective-drama.

  • Comment number 48.

    Oh, and seriously, bring back Grandstand. Extended highlights of Diamond League, cross country, swimming, hockey and any other minority sport... Every Saturday.

  • Comment number 49.

    A couple of things here:

    The Olympics came to Britain not the UK as mentioned in this report.

    24 channels but only if you had a subscription service to a rival broadcaster. I was disgusted when I saw a large billboard advert for the 24 BBC channels being broadcast on SKY. The BBC should not allow SKY to show any of its channels let alone use it as a selling point to make money which is then used to take sports away from the BBC.

    A lot of live events kept switching halfway through to other channels or being put on the red button. If you show a sport live then show it in its entirety on the same channel including any victory ceremony.

    "public broadcasters have a duty to deliver big national events on behalf of the whole population" So why did you give up the rights to the F1?

    I would like the BBC to start a subscription channel called "BBC Grandstand" which shows live sports both via TV and online. The BBC could then use this money to show some more live sport on its main channels rather than giving rights to SKY. I would be happy to pay the BBC to see sport but I will not pay Murdoch and nor will many others.

  • Comment number 50.

    Number 28. The reason that you couldn't get the times on your app during the cycling was because you and many thousands of others along the road were either doing the same thing or tweeting and as a result it brought the network down which not only affected the broadcast but also meant that the teams couldn't get timings back to their riders as they couldn't find them out either.

    This may be one of the reasons that the break away got so far ahead as the peleton wasn't aware of the times.

    You and those on the roadside tweeting to your mates probably contributed to Mark Cavendish losing his final chance to get an Olympic medal.

  • Comment number 51.

    good blog. all credit to bbc for phenomenal coverage - no criticisms at all (except for gary linekar)

  • Comment number 52.

    Whilst I agree that the Olympics coverage was exceptional, there is a huge disparity between BBC services on Freesat and Freeview. A huge campaign has been run for years promoting digital services and Freeview has been highlighted more than Freesat. Those who have chosen the freeview route lag behind Freesat and surely the BBC should address this anomaly. I now read that the red button service is going to be replaced, please pay attention to this service and highlight the full benefits. Many people would tune in to the red button for the Formula One forum for instance but would not realise that you could select channel 301 and record the programme if out.

    I read many forums about the coverage of the Olympics and people were ignorant of the fact of how you could receive all 24 streams on non SKY equipment, It disturbed me that many of those even thought they had to be a SKY subscriber not realising they could receive FREE to air channels on a SKY receiver without a subscription.

  • Comment number 53.

    @49 Bob: As you'll read in my post 52. I made a similar objection but you did NOT have to subscribe to SKY to watch all 24 streams indeed if you had an HD box there were an additional 24 HD streams. I had cancelled SKY but obviously still use my box for FREE to air channels. Unfortunately I can't record any programes but could easily catch up on the iplayer. There are other FREESAT boxes available which actually allow recordings. However you are one of many who fell foul of the advertising campaign which failed to point out the benefits you could enjoy on alternative Freesat boxes. Considering the money advertising that has been used to subsidise the digital switch over, the information is severely lacking.

  • Comment number 54.

    The BBC broadly did extremely well, though some of the Olympic Broadcasting Services' work left things to be desired: ugly presentation, some dubious direction... not bad considering they only get the chance to practice every couple of years, but below the standard of a broadcaster who gets the chance to practice frequently as well as regularly. When so much was available, it rankled that any of the action at all might not be: for instance, the shooting preliminaries and the archery ranking round.

    I think this was a real paradigm shift for us as viewers, to an extent that even I was caught out by. Previously we've just been served a diet that was selected for us; now we had the opportunity - and, to a surprising extent, the requirement - to go out and get it for ourselves. Want to watch some sport that isn't picked to be on 1, 2, 3 or Freeview 301? Watch it online. Don't like the presenters? Switch over to the raw footage; worst case, you'll have to sit through some medal ceremonies for other nations.

    This does not completely excuse the BBC; for instance, the quality of their output when there wasn't live sport available as an alternative has to come into question. "If you don't like the programming, watch it online" only goes so far when there's an appreciable time gap between the sport happening and it being made available on catch-up. The curated programming erred slightly on the side of excessive British focus, and some of the Australia-bashing towards the end was predictable at best and in poor taste at worst. Nevertheless, these are all small quibbles explaining why the score must be 9/10 rather than perfection. I even grew to love the BBC presentation graphics and theme, which I wrote off as a B-minus safe choice before the Games started.

    The whole availability was a step-change forward from what was available previously; hugely impressive and I'm delighted to see that the BBC has gained extremely well-deserved plaudits and public impression overall. You're setting a very high bar for all future sports coverage and every broadcaster from now on will disappoint if they do not at least reach these standards.

  • Comment number 55.

    Many have been calling for a dedicated BBC Sports channel. 10.5 million subscribers are willing to pay an average of £57 per month to SKY yet the amount SKY actually pay for major sporting rights including Premier and Champions League football, Heineken and Premiership Rugby, cricket both domestic and international, Formula One and tennis is equivalent to just under £7 per month for each subscriber. So less than half of that for each licence fee payer. For entertainment, you can add 11 pence per month for the best entertainment catalogue available anywhere, HBO which contains shows such as Mad Men (lost from the BBC) Game of Thrones, Treme, In Treatment, Blue Bloods, Boardwalk Empire, Mildred Pierce etc, etc, etc. Not forgetting a superb back catalogue of ER, West Wing, Sopranos and The Wire. Shouldn't the BBC focus more attention on what is possible for the licence fee payer instead of cutting content and losing sporting rights. If I ran a poll on this forum, I would expect very high results backing an additional £5 -£7 per month on top of our licence fee to save 10.5 million subscribers paying an average of £57 to SKY not forgetting you have to first for a licence fee before shelling out nearly another £60 for SKY.

    In my opinion, there is no broadcaster who can compare with the BBC's output as a whole. Three Radio programmes alone have audience figures of 6.5, 8 and 9 million listeners each day. Minority programmes such as World Cinema regularly attract half a million viewers late on Saturday night on BBC Four. A huge outcry occurred during Wimbledon when Gardeners World was postponed, I can see why it attracts 3 million viewers. Viewing figures for live sport outstrips SKY by a country mile. Yet we see £430 million spent on News. Save money on doubling up on presenters on the News Channels, save money on weather presenters used across the nation, a regional weather forecast can be read just as easily by the local news presenter or the national weather presenter. Surely they have time to record 12 regional weather reports and link them to local news.

    We need a balance in broadcasting, sport is staple diet for many viewers as SKY have proved many, many times over but at a price.

  • Comment number 56.

    The toad cycling was a double bill with the frog marching

  • Comment number 57.

    Well on reflection This was the most enjoyable Games ever....simply because all sports could be watched in the viewers whim...I was seriously impressed with the BBC Olympic digital TV coverage (any sport on the red button) wow! 10/10... And the Website Coverage was equally top notch too, the BBC has raised the bar, future Olympics should be covered this way... Will we be able to see individual sport feeds from Rio in 2016...If not then It will be very much a disappointment...
    Furthermore, I think it is fantastic that you are keeping access to any Olympic sessions from any day of the Games online...I wish you could leave them there online for several years as a means to watch the vast array of sport sessions on offer.... I am using the online service and watching back Olympic sports on a daily basis. Please keep them online for Posterity. My two youngest are watching and getting enjoyment from the watch again service...super idea and another way that kids can get inspired...Schools could also show the kids that there is more to sport than the football premier league...Football is but another popular sport, and our national team need to work on that too... Sorry but I cannot take premier league football seriously again. After serious reflection The Olympic games is the greatest sport show event on Earth! Congratulations Team GB, best ever!...Roll on Rio

  • Comment number 58.

    Barring a couple of weak spots (Colin Jackson, Mark Lawrenson) the BBC coverage of the Olympics was magnificent. From the mighty Michael Johnson to the occasionally tense interplay between Gary Lineker and Ian "Look" Thorpe, it was two weeks of sport at its best.

  • Comment number 59.

    I loved the sports coverage on the Sky platform (both in HD which I upgraded to specifically for the Olympics) and in SD on my new multiroom setup. The Freeview coverage was pretty good howver it was limited (probably due to bandwidth restrictions) but one thing the Olympics did do was get our work TV off the horrendous JK on ITV1/2.
    All in all excellent coverage from the host broadcaster. Keep up the good work BBC but can we have more coverage of the so called minority sports (volleyball, cycling, handball, hockey etc)

    Bringback Granstand I used to love it

  • Comment number 60.

    Plenty of self congratulation in this blog. The BBC did have the benefit of a home Games, great stories and massive resources.

    Please can we have more specifics though. WHAT will you be showing live in the future? Your portfolio of sports rights is pretty paltry now.

    And how will you ensure that what you do is distinctive and original, which is, after all, the BBC's purpose.

    I don't see how live blogging is distinctive and original. Many other media outlets (in fact nearly all) are providing this service, which essentially aggregates content.

    This, in essence, is actually what Twitter itself does.

    I would hope for rather more rigour and ambition, rather than self congratulation and complacency.

  • Comment number 61.

    Coverage was fantastic. I accessed the various sports by the additional 20 plus channels. Only small point is that I would be listening and the commentators would suddenly disappear without any explanation.

    I would also have liked a highlight programme on each channel each evening

  • Comment number 62.

    I enjoyed the coverage, except when the BBC fell back into its 'comfort zone' with Lineker, Barker, etc. I'm on Freeview, but I appreciate that having all sports available at any one time gives so much more choice than in previous years. Bliss - and the text commentaries for those of us at work were great as well.

    Freeview could be a little random at times, but that worked for me on the middle Sunday, as a former fencer (and teacher of it). BBC Three told me to turn to the Red Button to continue watching the cycling; so I did, but we got instead great coverage - and commentary - of GB v Italy, Men's Team Foil.

    But if we're talking "legacy" - instead of relying on Eurosport to carry so-called minority sports I'd prefer that the BBC did it instead, either wholly on-line or with Red Button highlights, making it much more accessible than it is at present, building an audience and maybe encouraging youngsters to try sports they'd never considered before (I only took up fencing when I did my degree). That would be a legacy to be proud of.

  • Comment number 63.

    Have to echo all those saying that the BBC needs to show more Olympic sports. And by this I mean on one of the main channels & not hidden away on the red button or website.

    BBC has plenty of rights to these sports but when they're on the red button they are not well promoted & are listed as a footnote in the Radio Times so the only people who know about them are the die hard fans rather than the casual viewer. I have seen plenty of Gymnastics, Triathlon, rowing etc. in recent years but judging by some of the comments on here a lot of people weren't aware of this.

    This evening the Diamond League from Stockholm was on website/Red Button - the BBC showed some of these meetings on BBC3 earlier this seaon so why not tonight instead of yet another Top Gear repeat? If this is how athletics is treated then god help Handball.

  • Comment number 64.

    Well done BBC TV; it was a real treat being able to watch virtually any Olympic event live on a main or subsidiary channel. The detailed Radio Times guide was very useful too.

    But the website... so frustrating! When I wanted a good text report on an event I was dragged off to a video clip, and when I wanted the full results, I struggled to find what I wanted. Like others posting earlier, I moved across to the London2012 site and all was fine: clear, thorough with logical navigation. Ben, I go back to the heated 'discussions' of some months ago; we highlighted the weaknesses of the revised website and were told that it was being readied for the Olympics. While the BBC TV coverage was excellent, other websites provided a much better service for Olympic enthusiasts.

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh and i also think the BBC should be congratulated on commissioning Elbow to do their Olympic music. Wonderful choice of artist and Elbow did a great job of writing a piece of music (First Steps) that captured the sense of occasion. Oh and a huge pat on the back for Elbow and their record label for agreeing to donate 100% of the profits from this song to Children in Need.

  • Comment number 66.

    BBC coverage was fantastic, the BBC was truly world class. Ask any American about the poor coverage given to them by NBC. The reality is covering more sport costs money, but I would much prefer to give my money to the BBC to watch live football than Sky......

  • Comment number 67.

    I enjoyed the coverage and even though I was not interested in many sports (trampolining, rhythmic gymnastics, wrestling to name a few) it was great that if you were interested (and had freesat) you could watch these sports. I agree that the new BBC sport website is not particularly good but the live text was very useful when at work (as it is for test matches etc). I was particularly pleased that once the GB football team (mens) were knocked out that we were not subjected to endles post mortems and radio 5 phone ins on the subject.

    As others have said there is a great opportunity for the BBC to take on many of these sports - why not have an updated version of Grandstand/sportsnight that would cater for athletics, rowing, cycling, canoeing, swimming etc. BBC obviously has the capability and the space in the schedules to do this or cover certain events like athletics- last night's diamond league could have easily been shown on BBC2 or 3 instead of being hidden on the red button.

    Radio 5 is another story and despite excellent olympic coverage I expect them to return to the wall to wall football coverage/endless phone ins that is the norm. For example on this day last year England beat India in the final test to get to No 1 in the world rankings. A great interview with Boycott, Agnew et al that I was listening to in the car was rudely (to say the least) interupted after the first round of premiership games ended at 4.45 to hear what (wait for it) Owen Coyle had to say about his team Bolton's game against Wigan (I think) or it some other lowly team). Not even Alex Ferguson, Mancini or Wenger should have been allowed to interrupt this historic occasion, let alone a hardly crucial first game of the season between two likely relegation candidates.

    Much has been said of the difference in attitude, humility etc of Olympians v footballers but it is not that simple. However there is a golden opportunity to ensure the young generation remain inspired by what has just happened. It is not just down to schools to have facilities and dedicated staff. Parents, local clubs and the BBC have to play a part - This should be given top government priority - action is required not just soundbites for political points.

    I also found the comments by ipico at 55 very interesting. I would pay a higher licence fee to get more mainstream sport on terrestrial tv. I have just cancelled my sky sports subscription - I only had it for cricket and summer rugby internationals and it was not good value for money. Why can't we have a dedicated BBC sports channel paid for by a small increase in licence fee that is ringfenced for sport coverage. Come on BBC- you know you can do it!

  • Comment number 68.

    The BBC's coverage of the olympics was frankly, extraordinary.

    I was a huge BBC fan "way back in the day" (in terms of this new age of digital sports coverage), reading as Fordyce and Dirsy travelled the length and breadth of France following the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

    BBC has undoubtedly been the leader in this new style of live text commentary and there may be immitators but, BBC is head and shoulders above and Dirsy and Fordyce have led the way for others to come through and entertain and inform us.

    The coverage was sublime across all formats, a huge well done to all at the BBC!

  • Comment number 69.

    For all those complaining about FreeView - PAY UP AND SHUT UP!

    Smoke less cigarettes, drink less alcohol, buy less clothes... a sky subscription is affordable, it is a question of priorities.

    English people are so unwilling to pay for things it is unbelievable!

  • Comment number 70.

    Absolutely brilliant coverage. I used it to the max on the PC.
    Plus using BBC 3 prior to 7pm. excellent idea. And they say there's no room for Cricket

  • Comment number 71.

    what a shame that the paralympics are being shown on channel 4 where I'm assuming that we'll only have a single feed and therefore not the same fantastic choice. Who's bright idea was that then to put it out to tender and take the money instead of the extra exposure? I hope I'm wrong but I reckon the games are going to suffer by loss of continuity and momentum. But hey, ho, let's see what happens.

  • Comment number 72.

    @TeniPurist. Why? The BBC had channels to plays with on freeview and utterly messed up at times. Why should I have to pay extra for a service I wouldn't need if the BBC did its job properly?

  • Comment number 73.

    Hey look, another blog where people with one hand praise the kind and generous nature of the olympics, and then with the other throw insults at football. Hardly a conveyance of the great olympic spirit eh?

    Also for those that say they hope that these athletes can inspire kids in a way football cant, please show a bit of objectivity. One common theme amongst the male athletes is how they "used" to play football but then changed to their olympic sport. Football inspired these people into becoming champions, as it will inspire millions of kids around England and the rest of the world.

    And as for comment number 1 who glibly mocked footballs claim to be the only sport that fills out stadiums. Lets see just how full these stadiums get when it isn't a once in a lifetime sporting occasion. I frequently watch Eurosport to see the likes of Tom Daley diving, and the stands are almost always empty. I cannot say the same when I watch teams like Stoke play teams like Sunderland at the Pottery.

    Only 30 min to go til the start of the new football season, and by the end of it, I bet almost every single one of the miserable scrotes in this comments section will be hooked again, and for those that wont be, enjoy womens netball, you and the other 30 people watching will surely have an amazing time.

  • Comment number 74.

    Agree with the comments to bring back Grandstand and show coverage of the Olympic sports. It took some searching, but I found out that the next 2 diamond league meetings are being shown on BBC3 (Lausanne) & BBC2 (Birmingham).

  • Comment number 75.

    If BBC was so proud of it's olympics coverage then why didn't it extend it to the paralympics? There is an apetite for more and Beijing was great to watch but there was nowhere near enough coverage then from the BBC. I'm expecting a minor disaster from C4, they don't have the expertise, the funds or the passion to make it work. I don't think they care much either, maybe a 1hr long program at the end of each day with half of it taken up with breaks. Certainly wont be 20 channels worth of coverage all in HD.

  • Comment number 76.

    Wonderful coverage in general, but I would echo the comments regarding the poor choice on Freeview. Whilst I appreciate there is limited capacity, showing the same coverage on two or three channels whilst other important/popular events are happening was unbelievably frustrating. The cycling coverage (both track and BMX) suffered badly at times because of this.

    What made things more frustrating was the constant reference to the various feeds without actually informing viewers that facility wasn't on Freeview.

  • Comment number 77.

    The television coverage of the Olympics was fantastic. However, it would be good if the BBC acknowledged the help from other nations who sent their cameras, producers, technicians etc to give the complete coverage. I recall Matt Baker apologising for some gymnastics coverage as Japanese Television was providing the TV coverage. I'm sure our friends in Eurovision did a lot of work too. The Aussies, Kiwi's Canadians and the Yanks too. So come on BBC, it was great but it wasn't all your own work. Lets hear who helped out and give them a vote of thanks too.

  • Comment number 78.

    The coverage was brilliant and I used my red button to the full. Also hats off to the presenters - Clare Balding & John Inverdale were outstanding in their involvement and passion.

  • Comment number 79.

    I have looking for an opportunity to congratulate the BBC on their efforts with the Olympic coverage. No matter where I was, at home, at the beach, shopping, at work I was never more than a click away from the action. A true revolution in digital coverage delivered. The bar has now been set and the possibilities it offers are very exciting.

  • Comment number 80.

    Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, So much pleasure watching the olympics especially catching up on the laptop, every day I logged into the torch run, it was the first website I looked at when turning on the computer. I thought the commentary was excellent, especially Claire and Ian on swimming. Also the group of commentators on athletics was especially endearing, they were so enthusiatic, thought Gary Lineker was boring though. Well done BBC, why or why are you not covering the Paraolympics such a pity.

  • Comment number 81.

    Whilst the 2012 Olympics were a triumph and the BBC's TV and internet streaming coverage excellent, I thought some aspects of the Sports website weren't so good:
    - I found the Sports Home Page became a mess
    It became harder to see "normal" coverage of non-Olympic sport
    Even Olympics events seemed a bit of a mish-mash
    - On other pages, such as Cricket, you insisted on putting an Olympics headline bar

    However it was a massive undertaking and always difficult to do well & please everyone.

  • Comment number 82.

    I knew there was a reason I always loved the bbc. The Olympic cover was amazing
    and being retired I could watch every day on the TV, my laptop and the desktop.
    Stupendous, and who cares about the football highlights contract. Go out there
    bbc and sign up other sports which made a name for themselves; whatever happened to the Horse Jumping we used to get, especially at Christmas, which I've
    really missed. Womens football and hockey (blokes will have to improve though), and I'm sure there are basket ball leagues in UK. They could all improve with the
    bbc imput.
    with the

  • Comment number 83.

    The ratings for the Olympic channels show the decision to close the red button services on Sky/Cable and retain just one stream (making the service as bad as it is on Freeview) is the wrong decision - given the opportunity people want to watch content through their TV, not via the internet, and one stream isn't sufficient for the red button service while Connected TV is still very much in it's infancy.


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