Olympic trials to be live streamed – but should they be on TV?

GB’s Olympic trials will not be on TV as it stands (although the BBC have said they will be covering the European Championships that follow on). Four years ago when trials were doubling up as the Olympic test event, they were shown live on the BBC red button, while in 2014, the Commonwealth trials were shown live on Sky Sports. Last year of course, there was no coverage at all, even online, which led to the bizarre situation of large numbers of people seeing Adam Peaty’s 100m breaststroke world record via BBC Olympic Sports correspondent Nick Hope’s iPhone. It was a matter for heated debate on the pullbuoy podcast at the time.

The picture has at least changed for this year, with trials to be live streamed from Glasgow and pullbuoy podcast regular Bob Ballard slated for commentary duties alongside Ross Davenport.

Clearly that’s a step forward, but some people feel its not enough. Hence there is a petition doing the rounds to try and convince a broadcaster to carry them. Realistically there’s no chance of the situation changing for 2016, but if enough people were to sign, then just maybe a broadcaster might sit up and take notice. And there’s the nub of the matter; sports coverage is a ratings game and swimming is not a ratings winner, Olympics aside.

The petition has been going for several days, and is edging fitfully towards 3000 signatures. But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the TV audience that would be needed to convince TV bosses to screen the sport, especially in prime time. The argument is often wheeled out that there are many, many swimmers and swimming fans around who want to watch. If that’s true and they really do want to watch, then they need to make their voices heard.

You can sign here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/televise-rio-2016-olympic-swimming-trials

6 thoughts on “Olympic trials to be live streamed – but should they be on TV?”

  1. In this day and age with technology at a new forefront there is no need for TV. A high number of shows are streamed or “on demand” anyway.

    We’re in a new age of viewing content. Time to retire that vhs player

    1. I saw this on Swimswam
      ‘Shame on the Marketing Department and the directors of British Swimming for not organising this again!! I would like to know if they have approached ITV, C4, C5, Sky Sports or Eurosports. (probably not!!) there are more channels that are readily available than just the BBC. How are British Swimming expecting a higher profile than they currently have, if the general public can not see the highlight of Britains swimming talent in the best swim meet in Great Britain on the TV.’
      Sponsorship for the athletes is very important. In this age of declining monies from Government and the sports bodies that becomes more relevant.

    2. Nick, surely the point is to raise the profile of the sport!
      By only live streaming you limit the audience to those who have a close interest. If it was shown on the telly the sport could well pick up the casual observes who may come back for more.

      The number of votes received by Adam Peaty in the recent SPOTY awards clearly shows the sport desperately needs a profile boost.

      1. Totally valid.
        Swimmers at the top level are swimming as a job. They are foregoing the early years of building a career. Sponsorship is vital, not just for them but for the sport too.
        The public love watching sport, not chat in a studio. They want to know more and to be able to follow.

    3. Whilst I agree with this to some extent, it’s worth noting that those shows are advertised quite heavily via ‘traditional’ media streams. For example, try counting how many ads and on how many channels there are as we approach the next season of Game of Thrones.

      Whilst it’s all well and good having the idea of streaming over the Internet as an innovative distribution method, there still needs to be advertising campaigns to back this media.

      Without it, you end up with the very real risk that even within the swimming community there will be vast numbers of people largely unaware that the streaming is actually taking place. If the swimming community don’t know about it, then there’s absolutely no chance that Jo Public will.

      I find it disappointing that the BBC have not pursued this (are they even aware of it?) as this is effectively the swimming equivalent of World Cup qualifiers.

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