Broadcasting live sporting events is both expensive and time consuming but, based on the potential viewing figures, very much worth the effort

As television productions go, live sport is amongst the most expensive and complicated possible. From the much-sought-after broadcasting rights to the state-of-the-art OB trucks, covering a football match, rugby game or boxing bout costs plenty. It also requires broadcasting facilities to be squeezed into venues and stadiums that are not always equipped for TV and an army of crew and technicians just to get the signals to air.

Time consuming and expensive it may be but it is very much worth it. Televised sport has captured some of the biggest television audiences in history.

The 1966 World Cup final, won by England, is still said to have attracted the biggest single TV audience in the UK ever, with more than 32.3 million people tuning in. That is more than the wedding or funeral of Princess Diana, more than Den and Angie getting divorced in EastEnders on Christmas Day 1985, more than the Apollo 13 splashdown and more than any Star Wars, James Bond or Harry Potter movie.

In the US, the top five most watched TV shows ever are all American Football Superbowls. Televised sport is big business. On the production side, using relatively inexpensive IP networks, and Stagebox technology, rather than ageing SDI infrastructures, can help make it more cost effective. It can also increase the amount and speed of data that can be sent and allow for remote control of broadcast operations, in turn reducing headcount and speeding up any path to post-production.

If/when this approach catches on, the potential viewing audience that could see sporting events that are produced using Stagebox technology is mind-boggling. By just looking at recent major sporting events in the UK and the US you can see the scale of opportunity for televised sport.

Here are ten major sporting events from the last 12 months or so and their respective local average viewing figures.
(Listed accordingly: Sport – Event, participants and year – Broadcaster – Viewing Audience in millions* – Venue)

1. American Football – Superbowl XLVIII, Seattle Seahawks vs Denvor Broncos, 2014 – Fox – 112.1 – 69% – MetLife Stadium, New Jersey
2. Basketball – NBA Finals, Game 7, San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat, 2013 – ABC – 26.32, AT&T Centre Texas
3. Winter Sports – Winter Olympics, Day 1, 2014 – NBC – 25.1m – Sochi
4. Athletics – London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony – BBC – 24.5 – Olympic Stadium, London
5. Football – European Championship Quarter Final, England vs Italy, 2012 – BBC – 20.3 – Olympic Stadium, Kiev
6. Baseball – World Series Game 6, Boston Red Sox vs St Louis Cardinals, 2013 – Fox – 19.2 – Fenway Park, Boston
7. Tennis –Men’s Final, Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic, 2013 – BBC – 12.08 – 72.83% – Wimbledon, London
8. Nascar – Daytona 500, 2014 – NBC – 9.3– Florida
9. Horse Racing – Grand National, 2014 – Channel 4 – 8.5** – Aintree, Liverpool
10. Boxing – Carl Froch vs George Groves II, 2014 – Sky Box Office (PPV) – 161,000 – 1% – Wembley Stadium

*All figures are average for whole coverage unless stated.
** Peak figure included in order to reflect main event.
# Does not include pub, bar or other public venue viewing.

Sources:

Broadcast
Hollywood Reporter
Sports Media Watch