A series of five, live televised hockey matches between Scotland and South Africa are being broadcast on the internet by a Glasgow-based independent TV production company that is carving a niche in live sports coverage on the web.
The matches – all part of a build-up by the South African women’s team ahead of their appearance at the London Olympics – are to be shown on the web, initially for free and then – as Video on Demand – at $0.99 USD per game. It is hoped viewers from across the world will go online to watch the matches, including Scots who can’t make them in person, the first of which is doubling up as the official opening of new, international standard facilities at Glasgow club, Clydesdale Western.
In the commentary team will be former GB hockey double-Olympian, Rhona Simpson.
This is the latest exercise in 'internet TV' by QuipuTV. Says its managing director, Jack McGill: “Our last major event was the ICC World Twenty20 qualifying tournament in Dubai in March, where we provided live coverage – using a team of seven – of 14 matches with reports from ten more. The coverage was watched online by an audience of 50,000 in over 140 countries.”
The hockey matches are on Sunday, starting at 2.30pm, then Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Adds McGill: “The USP of QuipuTV is that we provide a low-cost alternative to expensive outside broadcasts that are beyond the resources of most sports bodies. We want to bring coverage of what people unfairly describe as 'minority sports' to fans who otherwise would have no opportunity to watch it.
“By using PC-based software that gives us a desktop gallery, we've created a mini-Outside Broadcast set-up that comprises between two and eight cameras – some manned, some unmanned, that can cover most sports. The major technical challenge is continually improving kit without blowing the budget. Cameras – and especially lenses – need to do justice to sports played over a large playing area, but also need to remain within a sensible budget.
“Add to that set-up a decent broadband connection, and we're ready to go. It makes us mobile and very flexible and allows otherwise untelevised sports the opportunity to reach their audience all round the world.”
McGill continued: “The production and editorial principles are largely the same as any TV production and we strive for the same quality, but it's a work-in-progress. I've always believed that if a programme – particularly a live one – is charming, it covers a multitude of sins; so we try and keep our coverage lively and light-hearted and involving players, coaches, journalists, etc., in the commentary team as well as social media feeds that allow us to integrate the audience into the coverage.
“This proved particularly rewarding in Dubai, where we involved more than 20 nationalities in the commentary teams and had viewers from over 40 countries asking questions of our guests, including a live and hastily-arranged interview with the Afghan minister for sport. We were also congratulated in Parliament by Joan McAlpine MSP, on our efforts covering the Scotland cricket team.
“We also have a firm commitment to promoting Scottish sport and in particular occasions when a Scots club or team is playing internationally. We think it's crucial that people's awareness of Scotland's international sportsmen and women continues to rise, because there is excellence out there and no-one will see it by watching [football's] SPL every week.
“Hence our decision to back the Scottish Hockey and this series of test matches against South Africa. Coverage of these matches will have to be basic, because there isn't a lot of money available to anything else and this is the other great challenge: finding the commercial sponsors and advertisers who see the benefit of what we're attempting.
“In the 'current economic climate' – as people so often say – it's difficult to find companies who want to part with their marketing budget for one-off events, so our priority for the next couple of years is to negotiate longer contracts for multiple events that will attract sponsors and advertisers and give us the financial stability to invest in improving our production process.
“We're greatly looking forward to watching the Scotland versus South Africa hockey, before we return to cricket in July with six, One Day Internationals, including Scotland versus Canada at Mannofield, Aberdeen.”