Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Tanya Lee | Great sports TV, please

Published:Friday | February 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Philadelphia Eagles' Nate Gerry celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Febraury 4. The Eagles won 41-33.

Ahhh, last Sunday's Super Bowl, yet another reminder that I'm obsessed with sports TV. I'm usually the worst to watch with, too caught up excitedly dissecting the riveting opening sequence, the gripping storyline, and the unforgettable soundtrack.

I'm always awed by the vibrant graphics, the dramatic commentary and all the other bells and whistles engaged in captivating the TV audience.

It's always been a quite enthralling experience to me and accounts for why I've spent a great deal of my adult life planning sporting events.

The truth is, Americans have created a solid sports marketing blueprint, which accounts for why the Super Bowl is the most-watched programme in American TV history (the 2015 edition had a whopping 114 million viewers).

Contrastingly, my obsession with, and work in sports, has made me quite an unhappy camper when watching some local sporting events. It is my perennial hope that we will lift the standard of the local presentation of sports, and with that in mind, here are a few tips on what I've found makes for great TV.


1. Visually Stun Viewers:


It's 2018. Sports TV has to be transmitted in High Definition. Anything less completely undermines the work of the athletes and diminishes from any real enjoyment in the living room.

We want to feel like we're trackside, courtside or in the locker room and the tunnel. The use of a top-notch graphics package and a solid story will make a considerable difference in engaging viewers from the opening sequence.


2. Find A Riveting Storyline:


Start with a compelling storyline about who's involved, how they got here, what should we expect and who should we keep our eyes on. This is the use of high drama! Yes, the sporting event may have star power in abundance, but without that gripping storyline and the visual display of these big personalities, the anticipation isn't high enough.

Just like any great movie, viewers like to see the good guys win and the bad guys lose. Show me the saviours and the villains. One solid example is Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Mayweather and Pacquiao shattered viewership records because the promotional build-up capitalised on the contrasting personalities of the boxers.

The arrogant and lavish Mayweather juxtaposed well against the humble, people's champ, Pacquiao. People tuned in either hoping Mayweather would prove his naysayers wrong and retire unbeaten against his biggest opponent to date or he would lose and be humbled, finally, in defeat. What happened in the ring was nothing compared to the dramatic promotion, which brought everyone to a TV screen.


3. Commentators Matter


I've worked in TV for quite some time, and I've long concluded that apart from great players, the single most important ingredient is actually a great commentary team.

Excellent commentary lifts any sporting experience. The superb commentary makes a good moment great and a great moment unforgettable, largely through a masterly mix of well-woven words and unrestrained enthusiasm.

As a wrestling obsessed child, I still remember the dramatic flair of the WWF's Vince McMahon vividly. In the NBA, Marv Albert punctuated every great moment with his classic rendition of the word "yes" that makes that entire Michael Jordan era unforgettable for me. And undoubtedly every football fan can recall the poetic utterances of Martin Tyler or Peter Drury in the commentary box.

In my favourite sport, track and field, for me, Lance Whittaker and Ato Boldon are unmatched. I get goosebumps remembering many of Lance's lines during Usain Bolt's biggest races at the London 2012 Olympics. When Lance asked if there was a throne in London big enough for the big man, I think I shouted "no" at my TV screen.

In track and field, I believe Ato Boldon gets it right consistently in his pre-race assessments. It makes for great TV when he's correct. It's the combination of how he says it and what he says that makes him my favourite in the commentary booth.

I still live in the hope that we will eventually employ all the relevant ingredients to lift the local sports TV product, which I know is stifled by small budgets and a stubborn disengagement with creating made-for-TV events.

- Tanya Lee is a Caribbean Sports Marketer, Author & Publicist. Follow her @tanyattlee on Instagram.