SPORT GB AND IBC 2012


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Peter Savage has sobering thoughts about the Olympics and Paralympics while looking forward to a beer or two at IBC
Well, we will soon come to the end of a summer that has been completely sports-dominated. I like sport. In fact, I could be classed as almost sport-obsessed. However, even I will soon breathe a sigh of relief knowing that, no matter what time of the day it is, when you turn on the TV you won’t see Gary Lineker and/or Sue Barker smiling cheesily, backed up by a plethora of unknown and limited-quality radio-turned-TV presenters.
I sympathise – because of the scale of coverage needed – but, as it was with the Diamond Jubilee, there are too many average presenters who add little technical value particularly when commentating on the many smaller sports that are given air time during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
So, having feasted on this great sporting bonanza what can we learn from all the coverage? And what, as a result, can we look forward to at the IBC exhibition?
The numbers don’t add up
I know that I am in the industry and benefit from the Olympics but I can’t believe the numbers involved. Is there not a better way to reduce the amount of media people who come to town during events like this? And who pays for it all?
Ultimately, in terms of paying for it, it is us – you and me – either by paying higher taxes or by paying higher product prices. A sobering thought. On the numbers, Germany sent 380 athletes to compete in the Games; its national broadcaster sent 500 people (down from the 700 who went to Beijing). And Germany wasn’t even covering a main sport. It is mad that so many people should be involved in this event, great though it is.
Team GB wins a broadcasting medal
However, on the coverage of the big sporting events, I can say with confidence that the standard of British TV production – by which I mean the actual pictures – was in general significantly higher than that of the rest of the Olympic Broadcast Services. When one watched some of the footage (the cutaways at crucial times, and the general poor standard of camera work) we can be satisfied that we do have high standards here in the UK.
A market for 3D
In addition, for the first time (and it’s thanks to the whole mle of sport for achieving this) I could see where 3D could, and will, have a market. When one is subjected to huge amounts of sport sometimes you really would like to see something different, something that gives an unusual or unexpected perspective. It is here, with the costs of production dropping, that 3D can and will find a market. It is already somewhat well-established in boxing and basketball, and I believe it could turn itself into a great pay-per-view service on some of our more exciting sporting events.
Time to switch from the same old diet
In broadcast standards it was all rather safe stuff – the same diet served up again and again which is also why, for one specific reason, I am really looking forward to IBC this year: this year the industry has seen significant changes and I believe that, when the Olympics and Paralympics are over, there could be a big change in the broadcast industry’s hierarchy.
Sony has this year lost a slice of market share to Canon, at the lower end of the camera market; its high-end cameras have yet to make an inroad into the Arri drama market. Panavision is rumoured to have something up its sleeves for the new year. EVS, after changes in its management structure, is rumoured to be on the acquisition trail: “Watch out Quantel”. What would happen if it also bought, say, Avid, providing end-to-end coverage of the market? Heaven forbid, it could dominate the market! Grass Valley is on its way back with some excellent new product developments and this is only the start with them going back to their basics. And who would have thought that Apple would have made such a quick exit from supporting the broadcast market post-FCX, allowing the revival of the aforementioned Avid?
A new industrial revolution
These types of industrial change always seem to happen after big years for television. The market has been good – but then comes the shake out. People will find 2013 far harder than this year – and we will start seeing significant moves and shakes in our industry. Sceptical? I have made a note to look back when we are in Brazil in 2016 to see whether, as I predict, a new broadcast map will have developed. So look forward to IBC – but look at it on a macro, rather than a micro, scale. The market may not be changing in formats but I believe there are several big corporate moves just around the corner
When you see me in a small part of Amsterdam that I will be calling England, buy me a beer and sit down to discuss where broadcast is going next because, by the time this goes to press, I suspect there will have been some very interesting corporate manoeuvres that will make IBC 2012 one of the best of this decade.
If you would like to know more about finance for investing in kit, do email me on peter.savage@azule.co.uk and/or write to the TV Bay editor. For more information about us, or to read other articles in this series, look at our website: www.azule.co.uk.

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