Watching the fantastic final of the US Open Tennis I was mindful of the future of television. Emma Raducano has inspired so many to even watch the US open and in its first year of broadcast on Amazon Prime. All making this year’s US Open the most-watched by more people than ever before. The best of the best in tennis have converged on Flushing Meadows to play at the newly opened Arthur Ashe Stadium, and over the course of the two-week event they have produced some of the finest tennis matches ever seen in person or on television. Emma of course, and her brilliant opponent Leylah Fernandez, both had dream come true stories helping to propel this event to newer heights of popularity
The biggest event on the tennis calendar, although I would argue that’s Wimbledon, with no traditional host broadcaster. Take a look at the opens’ TV partners, ESPN (USA, Australia), Amazon Prime (UK) BEIN Sports (Middle East & North Africa), CCTV (China), Fox Asia, Star India and Eurosport. No CBS the broadcaster since the open era began in 1968, it was 2014 when CBS was outbid by ESPN, 80% a Disney company a cable network dedicated to sport. The relationship between CBS Sport and the rest of CBS was always frosty, with many arguments about scheduling and key matches crashing the News etc. So in the USA it makes sense for a dedicated Channel to take the event. Here in the UK, we have the BBC prepared to drop their weekly schedule to make way for Wimbledon.
Amazon Prime The future of Television
In the UK for the Open, we had what I see as the future of television, The entire US open broadcast Live on prime. Each match timetabled as a stream or select matches available as VOD. It was quality broadcasting, hub studio, good commentary from Martina Navratilova and courtside observations from Tim Henman. Given the interest in Emma Raducano, there was a last-minute deal the final free to air. Literally, 24 hours before the big event Channel 4 signed the contract, for an as-yet-undisclosed seven-figure sum, and 9.2m peak watched. for free.
Broadcast TV is Dead
The vast sums paid for these events means that in the near future Amazon Netflix etc will be the only organizations with deep enough pockets to pay up. As Audiences migrate to online viewing it was live TV and big sporting events that look like they could save broadcasters. However, I think that now looks unlikely as the streamers get on the live event bandwagon, the audiences already have the sign-up, younger audiences have moved away from any terrestrial TV. The writing is on the wall as “brand flight” takes hold from the broadcasters advertising money printing press. I do now think the disruption is complete. If Netflix paid ITV productions 30m for love Island why go to the trouble of running a broadcaster on empty?
The new world
Just as tennis adjusts to games with no line judges and computer-generated calls of “OUT” and AI takes us into a world with less reliance on humans. So our viewing of media will change. I have already campaigned for educational courses to drop the title “TV production,” in fact TV anything, it is becoming increasingly redundant as a term. Content Creation is for social media, so what is the new catch-all term for those of us that make shows for the new era? Media Production, Video Production, any suggestions gratefully received! I think the future of media production is going to be huge, the future of television – perhaps less so.