By Nick Butler at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo

New ways of showcasing sport was discussed at today's panel discussion ©ITGFinding a unique selling point but in an affordable and technologically innovative way was hailed here today as the key to less mainstream sports, including many Olympic ones, acquiring more television coverage.

Speaking in the opening panel session of the Sportel World Sport Content Media Convention, a group of representatives from broadcasters and brands, including Joachim Wildt, chief executive of German production company Plazamedia and Peter Norrelund, head of sport at Danish channel TV3, all agreed that, in an ever-evolving "digital jungle", there are plenty of opportunities for sports other than football to capitalise.

But these sports have to be aware that, because they attract a smaller audience, the coverage must find a return on the investment and therefore be on a lower budget and require less manpower.

"We want to cover sports like table tennis but not by using 18 cameras," said Norrelund.

"We have to find a different way to do it but we are also looking for a unique selling point and a story to tell.

"It is also about bringing content to people that they have not seen before."

Wildt added that the key was combining the sport and television world with information technology in order to utilise these digital opportunities to a sporting environment.

One way to do this would be by utilising "cloud-based" television production, which requires less personnel on the ground, while the idea of spectators aiding the coverage by filming from the stands on their smartphones was also muted.

David Bush, marketing director of Sony Professional Solutions Europe, used the example of tennis, showing a video of a boy's singles match during last month's US Open where four cameras were used but the coverage was produced remotely with one operator.

This is both necessary and useful because the core tennis audience wants to watch matches other than the ones on the showcourts during Grand Slams, but there is obviously less of a demand, so less resources available, than for the more high profile matches. 

Tennis is a sport that is increasingly making use of remote coverage ©ITGTennis is a sport that is increasingly making use of remote coverage ©ITG

These trends and demands will also be of interest to other major sporting events currently seeking television coverage, including the organisers for the European Games, to be held in Baku next June.

But as Norrelund said, the secret is to make your sport attractive and stand out.

A sport that has done this very well is judo, where the International Judo Federation has introduced changes in the scoring system as well as in the annual calendar, now based around a World Championship and a ten-event World Judo Tour, deeming it more attractive to broadcasters.

Archery is another good example, where a set-orientated system in Olympic recurve events meaning that matches are faster-paced and closer, with many now coming down to a deciding shootout, while overhead and target-centred camera shots also add to the experience.

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