Does archery need to be on television? Chris Wells sets out the facts.
It’s a common complaint amongst archery fans that, while other niche sports like darts, snooker and bowls have carved out regular time slots in many countries around the world, archery is not often featured on the television schedule to nearly the same extent. And that’s despite a regular, high-quality production from the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit and the fact that every four years, archery receives excellent television ratings at the Olympic Games.
There are channels that do show archery. Eurosport carries highlights and some live footage of World Archery events, as do many of the Fox Sport networks, and NBC is the exclusive rights holder in the USA. But it’s not a huge quantity and, even if you live in those parts of the world, you might not have tuned in.
And why would you? Except where the exclusivity does not permit it, these international events are live streamed on YouTube and Facebook. Connected TVs are becoming the norm and iPads, laptops and mobiles are becoming acceptable viewing platforms.
For the archery public, the fans – essentially, you, reading this – the online footage, which is the same quality as you’ll find on television, is more convenient, and often more complete. So given the audience has access, should archery even strive to be on television?
What makes the difference?
For a niche sport to gain coverage, there are three ingredients: appetite, relevance and performance.
An Olympic medal match ticks all three. There’s an appetite from a nation’s public to see that athlete climb the podium. It’s relevant to that audience because of the nationality. And the performance, the glory of Olympic success, is incredible to witness.
Countries that do have regular scheduled slots throughout the year, like NBC in the USA and SBS in Korea, show highlight matches from international events and also report strong viewing numbers.
But archery’s easiest way onto the screen is via news programming. Germany’s national television stations, which showed national medal matches from the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Berlin in grandstand-style sports programmes or news, reached millions; as did Italy’s for the team title at the Hyundai World Archery Championships in Mexico City; and Sebastien Peineau’s win there was all over the French channels – as was he when he rushed home.
Those millions of eyeballs were earned because two of the key ingredients were present – national relevance and world-class performance.
This is incredibly valuable. It keeps the sport in the public eye. It may convert one, two, 10 or 1000 to search for a place to try archery. And it gives screen time to sponsors, too. Archery needs this.
The road to converting news exposure to consistent television time, to rights fees to generating income and bringing further professionalism to the sport is long. It’s already started in some countries, but it will take time, because it requires the appetite of the public and the channels (and, of course, the advertisers).
It will progress faster in some areas of the world when compared to others – and it will be easier in countries that have consistent medal success internationally, because news content at the world level is produced about those athletes that podium.
Doing it yourself
But this is where the worlds of social media and television in the modern world combine. It doesn’t have to be World Archery that creates the news clips that are shown on television, and the footage that many national federations, regions and clubs are striving to produce for streaming on Facebook or YouTube are not far away from securing time on the schedule.
National competitions have national relevance and, if footage is produced, there’s a good chance a national champion is an announcement worth having on the news. Local news, even newspapers – which now have videos embedded all over their online platforms – need footage to tell the stories. And it’s not necessary to wait for them to send out a journalist and cameraman; you can produce the content yourself.
An archery news clip, delivered to a television station, is simply 2-3 minutes of 1080i, high-definition footage (which can be taken on many modern DSLR cameras), that shows the winning moments of a competition – preferably the archer shooting and the arrow landing – the celebration and some scene-setting footage of the venue.
That’s it. If you’ve got the capacity to add in a short interview (with a proper microphone!), then it’s a bonus. With a little practice, it really is quite simple.
Of course, creating the content is one aspect, the other is finding the right contact – the news desk or sports desk or particular journalist – at the most relevant stations to receive the content. But that’s a little bit of preparation in advance. And of course, it has to be relevant. It’s no use sending content from a your local county event to a national television station – it won’t be used.
This is an area where archery stands to gain a great deal right now. A world in which national governing bodies and major domestic competitions are making news content regularly available to television channels is a world in which archery, as a sport, is fully taking advantage of the exciting competition format it offers.
It’s also a world that’s one step closer, country by country, to archery getting a consistent slot on television.
And that in itself is necessary if archery is to continue to attract more people, more sponsorship revenue and greater respect to its events.
Where to watch
World Archery’s YouTube channel collects over 3000 videos from international and national events, plus interviews and features – including how-to videos, equipment explanations and fun games. Visit www.archery.tv to watch.
The Olympic Channel contains some of the archery competitions from past Olympic Games. Visit www.olympicchannel.com or search on YouTube.
Chris Wells is the Senior Communications Manager of World Archery.