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Monday, 20 November, 2006
The eye of the world will be on the 15th Asian Games thanks to a 60-country television contract
Billed as the Games of your Life, the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006, in the view of Patrick Furlong, Director of Broadcasting & Media Services for the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC), will raise the bar to new heights.
“It is going to get a broader coverage than any previous Asian Games; it is going to be more comprehensively covered from a host broadcast point of view than any other Asian Games and it is going to set new standards, simple as that,” Furlong insisted.
“I think it is going to benchmark the Asian Games and raise the bar and challenges for all coming Games” A bold statement, but it is easy to see why Furlong is so positive about these Games.
These will be the first Asian Games to be broadcast live in Europe, satellite channel Eurosport having come on board full of enthusiasm to showcase not only the traditional Olympic sports on the schedule, but also the traditional Asian ones too.
Sepaktakraw is one such sport that seems to have captured their imagination with Furlong putting this down to them “looking for the slightly quirky side of Asian sport, things that are not common in Europe.”
Whatever their reason, as Furlong admits, Eurosport’s involvement is “a real breakthrough for the Asian Games” and the channel will broadcast as many sessions live as they can, recording any that run concurrently to show at a later time.
It is not only the Eurosport coverage, however – described by Furlong as “a nice surprise” – that is a step forward for the 15th Asian Games, with SBS Australia showing a full coverage of the Opening Ceremony, news highlights and a weekly two hour highlights programme.
Covering 60 countries
this news service will actually be transmitted to every television station in the world
Games coverage will reach all 45 countries and regions that are represented in the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), with other bonuses being a rights-sale to both the United States and South America, the latter in Venezuela.
This amounts to live coverage in more than 60 countries, although there is also the production of a five-minute daily news service by Sports News Television (SNTV) which, by agreement with Reuters, will then be distributed via both their international networks.
In effect, therefore, this news service will actually be transmitted to every television station in the world and ultimately help the 15th Asian Games to reach a potential audience of around three billion people worldwide.
Realistically Furlong believes a high of 1.5bn will be a good target to aim for, with some of the largest audiences expected to come from China Central Television and DDI India, who both have base audiences of more than one billion.
Coverage is expected to peak for the athletics, swimming and gymnastics finals, although different sports will appeal more to certain countries, for example hockey in India, badminton in Indonesia and the marathon and race walking in Japan among other countries and regions.
Overall the busiest day, according to Furlong, is expected to be Tuesday 5 December, with around 35 feeds coming into the International Broadcast Centre. Twenty-five of these will be single sport feeds, with the likes of gymnastics having potentially six feeds.
But the emphasis is not purely on quantity but quality too, as Furlong explains, “The objective of the original broadcast plan I presented to DAGOC was to produce and present the Asian Games to a world audience with world class coverage.”
This has meant hiring a professional Host Broadcast company (DAGBS) which has provided crews who have covered world championships or Olympic Games in their specialist sport. Even if they are covering three sports, they will have in-depth knowledge of two besides their specialist sport.
What also stands the 15th Asian Games in good stead is the preparation and planning put in DAGOC and DAGBS, highlighted by the fact that the first World Broadcaster Meeting took place 15 months ago and provided comprehensive information that allowed Broadcast Rights Holders to prepare and plan properly for these Games.
Furlong was Head of Sport for the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) at the time of the Asian Games Bangkok 1998 and it was his experiences there which alerted him to the untapped potential of the Games from a broadcasting perspective and set him on the road to Doha.