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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have seen TV sport future

Watching the Indian Premier League cricket this afternoon I wonder whether I may have glimpsed the future of TV sport.

The New Zealander Daniel Vettori was bowling, the Indian Sachin Tendulkar was batting and the South African AB de Villiers was keeping wicket in front of a packed, noisy stadium. It's probably not your idea of cricket – cheerleaders, throbbing dance music between overs, fawning close-ups of the sponsor's wife, every feature of the contest sponsored to the hilt, floodlights - but you can probably imagine.

What was really remarkable was that in between balls de Villiers was talking, via a microphone hidden in his helmet, to the off-field commentator. It was an entirely new context to see a player in. No great insights were forthcoming but because he was being spoken at his actual work bench there was none of that desperate stiffness that usually attends the post-match interview. If I was responsible for increasing the profile of AB de Villiers or one of his sponsors I'd be keen for him to do more interviews out in the middle. They polled the TV audience to see how many thought it was a good idea. 83% said yes.

It seems inevitable that as sound equipment gets more discreet, coaches feel an increased need to try to control every play on the field and broadcasters want to wring every fluid ounce of drama they can in exchange for their increasingly expensive rights, we're bound to see more of this kind of thing. Where technology can go, it tends to.