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SBD Global/March 17, 2014/Media

Fox' Hill Says Live TV Will Be So Compelling, Fans Will Pass On Stadiums

The live TV sporting spectacle will become so “compelling” that thousands of fans will desert going to sporting events live, according to 21st Century Fox Senior VP David Hill. Hill said that in 10 years' time, stadiums with capacities bigger than 25,000 will have difficulty selling out because the “TV experience is going to be so compelling,” and tickets to live events are becoming increasingly expensive. Hill said, “I firmly believe that in 10, 20 years, people that own stadiums are going to have a great difficulty in getting people to leave their television sets and come to these stadiums." Hill also argued that live televised sport was the only “safe bet” for TV execs looking for a guaranteed audience. Hill said, “All of television is a bet. We have just seen this in the States with the success of 'House of Cards' on Netflix, which was a huge bet by Sony. As the broadcast world moves on and on, sports events will get bigger, bigger. Not all sports will get bigger and bigger. There is a risk that the smaller sports will be cannabalized.”

INSTANT GRATIFICATION: Sky Sports Managing Dir Barney Francis trumpeted the value of broadcasting live sports events, in an age when watching sports clips online and on mobile phones has become more popular. Francis, speaking at a SportsPro Live conference in London, said, “For a sports business it’s all about live sports. Clips deals, highlights deals, they are all really important, but on a sliding scale, live sport just disappears into the stratosphere.” Asked about where he saw the threat to Sky Sports coming from, Francis said it will come from those companies willing to take “a big bet” and could come from one of those “big San Francisco companies that emerges and sees live sports content as a key driver for their business.”

DANGER OF TECHNOLOGY: Meanwhile, Dave Gordon, former head of major events at BBC Sport, said there was a danger that some sports could be seduced by digital technology and lose sight of the importance of showing the sport live. Gordon said, “I think there is a danger for certain middle ranking sports that they get seduced by digital technology and don’t appreciate how crucial having world class live coverage of their sport is. Any sport governing body that loses sight of what is really important is actually beginning to sign its own death warrant.”
John Reynolds is a writer in London.
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