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Russian World Cup roulette in the Summer sunshine

Anyone ready for the new Premier League season? Nah.. me neither. The World Cup joy of seeing the Koreans outplay the Germans will live long in the memory, and the gut-wrenching tension and ultimate success of an England penalty shoot out was pretty epic, and cathartic for those old enough to remember Turin, 1990.

Just as epic was the TV production itself, and it’s a bumper 4K summer for all at the vanguard of the UK OB sector.

Anyone who has worked in and around the OB sector will know the odd year/even year conundrum, and for any NAB regulars familiar with the roulette tables, the red and black colours are a perfect visual analogy.

Every even year we have a global sporting event, conveniently arranged around the annual football season TV cash-cow juggernaut. World Cups, Olympic Games and all the warm up events around them are key to the success of the OB sector. So any OB business should be well in the black in these even years, to cope with the odd years when they may well end up in the red. See what I did there?

For the major OB hire businesses with huge inventories of the latest 4K camera channels and lenses, the appeal of a long-term World Cup/Olympic project is huge. Getting significant amounts of kit out for long periods of the summer is hugely desirable, even if the rate card goes out of the window.

Of course with so much kit out of the country for so long, the opportunities present themselves for businesses who didn’t win the World Cup work to fulfil local demand. And with a shortage of kit the theory goes that the margins on these jobs should be better as it’s not so much of a buyer’s market. Well, that’s the theory.

Much of the Russia-bound World Cup kit left the UK in June, and some still isn’t back as I write this in the second week of August. But the UK summer OB events were still huge and plentiful, and the shows must go on.

Wimbledon is an enormous broadcasting operation which happened right in the middle of the World Cup. Having the same location and facility knowledge each year helps, but the developments in technology have been fascinating. The Open Golf championship was an extraordinary technological challenge, spread over huge swathes of Eastern Scotland, and last weekend’s Women’s British Open also had some great coverage, and a British winner was the icing on the cake.

And then there is the new format European Championships “athletics” which is being billed by the BBC as a European Mini-Olympics with extended coverage on TV, on-line and red button. Gymnastics, athletics, swimming, cycling, rowing, triathlon and a new team golf event over 11 days, and all but the Athletics is being held in Scotland.

And the brilliant 1st test match in the India v England series in Birmingham. Oh, and the fantastic British Grand Prix. And some spectacular horse racing and and and …you get the idea.

I really should mention Love Island at this stage too, which also achieved huge viewing figures and was a pretty amazing technical broadcasting feat (apparently…I managed to miss it all, which may go on my list of Linked-In achievements).

It’s clear that sport is key to our nation’s TV viewing habits. Ask yourself this…do you watch ANY other live TV? Maybe the news? Our favourite Harry’s last minute goal against Tunisia became the most viewed event of the year, knocking a certain other Harry’s big day off the top spot. And the viewing figures as England progressed through the tournament were extraordinary. Of all the amazing viewing stats from the World Cup, I thought the most telling was the split of viewers for the only game that was simulcast on BBC and ITV. I thought the BBC coverage and punditry was excellent throughout, and of the 10.5 million people who watched the final, 8 million agreed with me. That’s some audience share.

It’s an issue for a commercial Broadcaster when it doesn’t capitalise on a huge potential live audience that can’t fast-forward through the ads. It’s also interesting/concerning that 17% of all ads broadcast during the World Cup were for gambling related businesses. However, as ITV were lucky enough to have the Croatia semi-final which produced a tournament-high 20M UK viewers, they ended up very much in the black. Especially as it went to extra time, so even more ads!! I imagine you could have had a bet on that happening.

So for the OB kit providers, the Premier League bread and butter returns. Given the sums of money involved though, it should really be “hand-churned dairy lacquer, gently smoothed onto a bed of organic artisanal loaf.”

Could it be any further away from a pie and a pint on the terraces?