It isn’t often I find myself watching football, but earlier this week I found myself watching the Liverpool vs West Ham match on BT Sport. It was my first experience of the channel and it was interesting to see a few Formula One presentation techniques have been adopted.
Firstly, it was great to see the natural presentation style of Jake Humphrey and his trusty iPad back on screen, arguably the most comfortable sports anchor on screen today. What surprised me was to see Jake and his team of pundits covering the game not only from the stadium but actually on the pitch. At first I wondered if this had become Jake’s signature style, having made the integrated presentation style his own during his time as lead F1 anchor for the BBC. In fact, I looked into the production team behind the BT Sport content to see if it was the work of the Jake’s production team, future Channel 4 F1 content provider Whisper Films, but it appears not to be.
The technique on the face it of it worked well, during half time analysis, the viewer was not left feeling removed from the action by heading to a studio. Unfortunately, the novelty quickly wears off, whilst the team are on the pitch they have no interaction with anyone involved with the game. It feels like BT Sport are working towards an integrated show but the clubs or key players aren’t’ quite ready for it. Which frankly after the broadcaster elevating broadcast rights deals into Billion-pound territory is unacceptable.
What works so well about the style for Sky and the BBC in Formula One is that a viewer feels closer to the sport, they feel like they know the venue, and that the stars of the show can be, and are, approached at any moment. The reason this approach is favoured by Sky and other channels is that the element of unknown keeps viewers tuned in. This is something Football struggles to achieve. Fans have no inclination to stick around after the conclusion of a game. Especially if their team has lost
So what can Football take from Formula One presentation techniques?
Broadcasters must demand access on their terms. Players and all levels of management must be willing to be approached at any point post and pre match by the broadcaster in locations defined by the broadcaster not the team. Interviews should be conducted in the stadium in full view of supporters, with supporter interaction encouraged. Commentators could engage in post match social media conversations with fans, the output of which could then used to produce post show content on air. Movement of players and management through the stadium should be tracked by film crews, minimal areas of any stadium should be off limits. Having an anchor and pundit team on the pitch is irrelevant if they do not / can not interact with what or who is around them. It’s time for football broadcasters to elevate broadcasts to the next generation. Social media interaction, fan response, live player response is all key. Football clubs must earn the huge expense they have now become for broadcasters. For the value of the industry to be sustained broadcasters need to turn a 90-minute game into an engaging must see 3 hour show.
BT Sport, with Jake Humphrey, seem to be working toward this ambition, it would be fantastic to see a presentation style successfully pioneered in F1 be adopted throughout Football.