Sky TV has revolutionised the understanding and enjoyment of sport.
As a lad, I’d turn on my TV set to enjoy the test match, live on BBC. There would be three cameras, one at each end of the wicket and a third with some poor soul perched a hundred feet up on a precarious hydraulic platform. And that’s how it went: switch to each ground camera as the bowling changed from end to end and cut briefly to the wobbly tower shot between overs.
There’s a saying in business: right now, in a garage somewhere, someone is manufacturing a bullet with your name on it. And that’s what happened to BBC’s sports coverage. As they rested on their laurels with their three cameras and stuffy commentary team, you guys at Sky prepared to take over the world. And what an amazing job you’ve done…
You’ve given us multiple angles; pitch cam, umpire cam, stumps cam. I can view super slo-mo shots of Jimmy Anderson’s bowling action and his line and length. Snicko shows me whether there was any bat, hotspot tells me how well a batsman middled it and Hawkeye clears up the lbw appeals. I can see whether Joe Root scores most of his runs on the on-side or the off, how early he takes it on the bounce and how many runs he has accumulated this series. And every other series. I can pause the action if I need the loo, then rewind to key moments I missed. Between overs, we cut to the blimp that gives us wonderful shots of the surrounding city and close-ups of some of the more colourful spectators. And, if that wasn’t enough, it’s all gift-wrapped with a commentary team which brims with as much spirit and banter as it does knowledge of the game. Finally, during the lunch interval, Willow and Stumpy explain the laws of the game so that future audiences can be educated and captivated.
Football has received the same treatment and, like cricket, this has served to increase enjoyment through understanding. My one sadness is that my poor old dad – and others of his generation – never lived to see it: a passionate football fan throughout his life, he had to make do with Match Of The Day on a Saturday evening and the occasional live European or FA Cup game. If he could turn on the TV now, he’d never want to leave his armchair again!
We live in a cynical commercial word where businesses dream up clever straplines which achieve nothing except to make the TV ads look sexy and the head office atrium more appealing. But you live up to yours: believe in better.
Thank you Sky. I have always loved sport but now I understand it so much more because of how you have revolutionised the coverage.
Long may you continue to innovate.