3 April 2017

New developments in TV delivery can help democratise participation sports in the UK

The ten biggest participatory sports in the UK contain some surprising pastimes. Amongst the usual suspects such as football and cricket are a number of sports that have much less of a profile such as cycling and athletics. The explosive growth of mobile video recording devices, combined with cloud computing, has transformed the ability to capture the performance of less popular sports and share it.


Historically, television was very expensive to broadcast – even in the digital age the cost of broadcasting on Freeview or Sky is millions. The internet changed this. It enables anyone to upload video and keep it for free. What is missing, however, is order. You have to search for what you want, potentially randomly stumbling across games and players, depending on the metadata placed on the video by the users.


However, it does not need to be this way. New developments in television delivery platforms enables multiple channels to be created, broadcast and scheduled over the internet to be watched on smartphones and tablets for a fraction of the cost of traditional television. The production qualities of a video created on a smartphone may never compete with professional TV, but there are opportunities for a serious democratisation of broadcast sport.


Consider hockey for example. It is almost impossible to watch the sport on television outside of the Olympics, yet there are more than 1000 hockey clubs in the UK, all with multiple teams playing in different leagues and different age groups. At every game there will be people recording the matches. Why not sort this content by league and broadcast it through an IPTV platform? This could prove to be a significant opportunity for sports that do not receive much in the way of airtime.


The biggest challenge that society faces in the next 30 years is changing the mind-set of the population to become more active, reducing the demands on health services as people live longer. Sport has a huge part to play in this, yet participation numbers are not currently rising. By combining the ease of capturing and broadcasting footage with a professional, channel-based solution, less popular sports can enjoy the profile of major sporting events. The era of niche television is here and sport should play a major part in it.

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