The Premier League’s Battle Against Vine Is Doomed To Failure

In one of his more recent efforts to be perceived as a forward thinking, progressive sports administrator, FIFA President Sepp Blatter declared the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to be “the first truly mobile and social world cup” – a statement that is hard to dispute.

Twitter’s traffic records were broken, Facebook experienced a surges in popularity and mobile networks reported that live streaming, video highlights and social media use was reaching unprecedented levels.

This was partly fuelled by the sharing of video clips of goals on YouTube and Vine shortly after the ball had hit the back of the net. But despite the obvious exposure and fan engagement opportunities that such activity provides, the Premier League has pledged to crackdown on users sharing clips of its matches.



Sky Sports Takes Advice From ‘ESPN 8: The Ocho’ To Fend Off BT Sport Competition

As football clubs across the country prepare for the start of the new season, the nation’s broadcasters have also been making moves for their own battle for supremacy, which takes place not only in our living rooms but on our mobile devices too.

Last year saw arguably the most significant development in UK sports television since the launch of Sky Sports itself, with BT Sport’s arrival in the market. Unlike Setanta or ESPN, BT has the ambition and the money to mount a serious long-term challenge to Sky’s supremacy.

Sky’s big innovation for 2014-15 is the launch of Sky Sports 5, a football-only channel that brings it perilously close to ESPN 8 ‘The Ocho’, the satirical channel featured in the movie Dodgeball that boasted “if it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here.”


Motorbikes, Tractors And VHF: How The Tour De France Is Broadcast To The World

The final kilometres of the Tour de France must be a relief to everyone involved. After three weeks of intense racing, the last few laps of the Champs Elysee in Paris are a sign that the world’s most famous cycle race is coming to an end – except for the sprinters who want to win the Tour’s most prestigious stage of course.

But it’s not just the riders who are tired, it’s the tech team which have to power the television broadcasts and build the networks that facilitate the smooth running of a race that spans more than 3,500 kilometres.

The first Tour to be televised was the 1948 edition, when the riders arrivals at the Parc des Princes Velodrome during the final stage was transmitted. These days, the entire race is shown live by 85 broadcasters covering 180 countries, thanks to a technical operation unlike any other sporting event in the world.


Goal Line Technology, Social Media And Online Streaming Take Centre Stage At World Cup 2014

On the eve of the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, FIFA president Sepp Blatter declared this year’s event to be “the first truly mobile and social world cup.” It’s easy to disagree with many of Blatter’s statements but not this one of them.

In fact the only grounds for debate was that this wasn’t just the most social World Cup of all time, it was almost the most technological, with innovations on and off the pitch helping referees, players and fans.

Goal-line technology made its debut, 4K and streaming made huge strides and fans were more involved than ever before thanks to unprecedented channels of communication.


GAA Puts Money Ahead Of Principles With Sky Sports TV Deal

Reading the Irish press in recent weeks, it would seem feasible that the three main issues affecting the country are the introduction of water charges, Garth Crooks’ controversial Croke Park concerts and the decision by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to sell some of its TV rights to Sky Sports.

The GAA’s new broadcast deal will see state broadcaster RTE show 31 matches and Sky 20 matches – 14 of which will be exclusively live. This marks the first time All-Ireland matches have not been free-to-air in Ireland, with RTE showing matches since 1962 and commercial station TV3 broadcasting games between 2008 and 2013.

So what? Sports organisations have been getting into bed with pay-tv for some time, why is this any different? Well, unlike football or rugby union, Gaelic Games are amateur at the highest level, with the GAA’s remit being to promote the games as part of a wider movement to promote Irish culture and the Irish language.

By partnering with Sky, many feel the GAA has prioritised commercial gain ahead of its principles, which would dictate hurling and Gaelic football are available to as wide a domestic audience as possible.


Technology Aids Wimbledon In Quest To Be The Most Prestigious Grand Slam Of All

So in the end there was no fairy-tale ending for Roger Federer at this year’s Wimbledon. The perennial crowd favourite lost an epic final in five sets to Novak Djokovic, having saved championship point in the fourth. Djokovic was as graceful in victory as Federer was in defeat, hoping that he will have one more shot at Wimbledon glory before his illustrious career – arguably the greatest ever – comes to an end.

It was a different kind of final to the one that preceded it, when, on a tension-filled day on Centre Court, Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77 year wait for a British male winner – but not before subjecting us to one last excruciating game before the famous drought was ended.

But walking around the All-England Club (AELTC) last week, it was though nothing had changed from last year. The overpriced Pimm’s and Strawberries and Cream were still served, the queues still formed in Wimbledon Park and Henman Hill, the physical manifestation of the modern British obsession with finding a  homegrown Wimbledon champion, was as busy as ever.


Free BT Sport Is Set To Change TV Landscape


It’s not often that the marketing hype lives up to its billing, but BT’s decision to give BT Sport and live Premier League football to all of its broadband customers does indeed feel like a “game changer.”

Since 1992, Sky has dominated the pay-tv landscape, fuelled by the success of its football coverage, allowing it to expand into other markets, like telephone and broadband, offering customers ‘triple play’ packages that BT would not be able to compete with.

Virgin Media is also able to offer such packages through its cable network, while BT has attempted to catch up with BT Vision, a curious mix of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and IPTV over its broadband network.


Cricket Commentaries Show Importance Of BBC Local Radio

Kent Cricket St Lawrences Canterbury

Yesterday, BBC Sport announced that it had retained all of its live radio commentary rights to the Premier League for next three seasons. Holding onto its flagship commentaries would have been a priority for Radio 5 live, given that it has seen its stranglehold loosened in recent years by Talksport and Absolute Radio.

I have been critical of BBC Sports’ television strategy in recent years, especially with regards to its public service obligations, but the quality of its radio coverage is second to none in the UK. The Premier League does not need the exposure, but football fans deserve the quality programming that 5 live produces.

However equally important is the news that BBC Local Radio will broadcast every ball of every county cricket game played in England this season, with all commentaries available online and some transmitted nationally on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

Promoting local sport

With no domestic free-to-air television coverage, cricket needs local radio to promote the country game, keeping fans informed and encouraging them to come along to matches. Without this network, the fortunes of the counties would suffer and this would ultimately undermine county cricket’s ultimate goal of supporting a competitive English national team.

It is unlikely that a commercial broadcaster would have the resources or the motive to do what the BBC is doing with its local radio stations. The benefits are so obvious that it begs the question as to why the corporation was so keen to slash budgets last year, much to the concern of sports like cricket and rugby league.

Lords Media Centre Cricket

The proposed cuts were universally unpopular among listeners and some were eventually scrapped, although there was still a reduction in sports programming and a knock-on effect on local sport. For example, the London Rugby League show was cancelled on BBC London 94.9 – something that will hamper the Rugby Football League’s attempts to spread the game in the capital.

Channel 6 the future?

The Non-League Football Show could have been another casualty, but was saved and is now broadcast nationally on BBC Radio 5 live – again, a perfect example of public service broadcasting.

Premier League football and Test Match Special are incredibly important programmes that the BBC should fight tooth and nail to keep, but its influence over local sport and less popular events should not be underestimated.

Hopefully Ofcom’s plans for a network of ‘channel 6’ stations on Freeview will eventually be able to provide a television outlet for local sports shows (although live sport is unlikely), but until then the BBC is a vital platform and its budget should be protected

App Review: Fantasy Premier League 2012-13 (iPhone/iPad)

Photo 11-03-2013 22 41 28

WARNING: As of the 2013-14 season this application appears to have stopped working. Pixel Sport has contacted the Premier League for clarificaiton

Format: iPad (reviewed), iPhone, Android

Version: 1.2

Fantasy Premier League is one of the most popular fantasy football games available, boasting 2.5 million players all keen to defeat their friends and family every week.

Given the popularity of its game, it’s not surprising that the league has come out with its own smartphone application, but it is strange it’s taken so long. Demand for such an app has been demonstrated by the unofficial applications that have tried to fill the vacuum, but none have had the official license.


Sport Tech: IBM TryTracker Brings Big Data To England Rugby

Mike Catt England RFU

In case you didn’t know, my day job is a reporter for Business IT publication TechWeekEurope. I predominantly focus on mobile and broadband, but also write about sport technology.

In the past year, I have interviewed the Chief Technology Officers of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Football Association, visited the St George’s Park National Football Centre and the Olympics Technology Operations Centre and met sporting figures such as Steve Cram and Dame Kelly Holmes.

Last month, I went to the England rugby team’s training base at Pennyhill Park in Surrey to hear about IBM’s new analytics deal with the RFU that sees it provide stats and data as part of the union’s mission to increase fan engagement.