Hot Topic - Media and Sports
The UNESCO World Radio Day was marked almost everywhere this past week. By celebratory coincidence it arrived on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, in English, after which the observant commence Lenten fasting. The special theme for World Radio Day 2018 activities was radio and sport, coinciding with the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
The new sport for broadcasters is spending; often borrowed, always huge. More is being spent, largely on content, sometimes technical tricks, by rich newcomers not around a decade ago and legacy rivals hoping to be around a decade from now. There will be winners and losers but fewer teams.
In business - as well as everything else - all things eventually come to an end. This is not doom and gloom. A favorite brand or product disappearing might well-up sadness and tears but, voila!, there is always something else to replace it. Generations change and bring with them different ways, sometimes better and sometimes just, well, different.
In the great department store of life, television shows all the pretty things along with, sometimes, garden tools and the dirt they go into. Viewers are attracted to the full range. Sports, of course, is the candy aisle, where television excels. “Life is like a box of chocolates,” said widely quoted world philosopher Forrest Gump. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Traditional television broadcasters have been backed into a painful corner. Video on demand services of the subscription kind are steadily raiding viewers who will pay for top flight drama and comedy series. Big name live sports is increasingly the domaine of pay-TV operators. Free-to-air broadcasters find the left-overs less than tasty.
The transcendent advantage of live events, and competition for them, has the complete and full attention of television broadcasters. This means, for most broadcasters, sports. Acquiring rights to the biggest events is evermore costly as is the expense of maximising every produced second. The thrill of the unexpected, surprising and even shocking attract huge audiences to live sports, perhaps more than victories and defeats. It is a television broadcaster's major prize.
European public broadcasters once held a distinct advantage in sports broadcasting, largely from generous staffing and advantageous sports rights contracts. Those days are fading fast. Pay-TV operators and telecoms have roared into sports broadcasting with buckets of money.
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