Get on with the play!
That’s the advice of Deakin University sports media expert Dr Paul Turner as debate rages over Channel 7’s coverage of the AFL.
“One issue with the coverage of Australian football, is that a lot of the action happens off the ball and thus often out of range of the camera,” said Dr Turner, a senior lecturer in sport management who did his PhD on sports broadcasting.
“It’s similar in soccer, the broadcasters want to get in close and tight to the action, but this results in much of the wider angles not being seen until they show the replay, unlike in the rugby codes where everything is much more compact around the ball.
“So in Australian football there is a need to get the balance right between the live action and the replay of what did happen off the ball, say when the full forward got away from the full back to take the mark.
“Which is not always easy to do if instead of taking his 30 seconds to kick for the goal, the forward hand-passes off, and the broadcaster is replaying the incident at that precise moment.
“But there is a lot of other stuff that gets put to air when we should be watching the game instead.
“I am often frustrated at the number of times we cross to the coaches’ box when play is still going on on the field.”
Dr Turner says one of the problems facing not just Channel 7, but all those television networks that cover sport, is the feeling they need to be coming up with new angles and approaches all the time.
“We have not got to jock cam yet but we are running out of places to put the cameras next,” he joked.
“Actually, with new technologies we can get closer and closer to the action thereby having the viewer feel like they are in and amongst the players, and this is what the broadcasters are seeking to do.
“but the broadcasters need to remember that really, the most important thing of all is that people just want to watch the game.
“So I think the producers and the commentators just need to get the balance right, to use the replays as judiciously as they can to keep the viewer informed, while at the same time making sure the main game is the game, what is actually happening live and in the moment.”
As well as sport and the media, Dr Turner’s other research interests are technological developments in sport, sport promotions and publications and sport marketing.