Mike Davies charts Fox Sports' production & broadcast future!

Mike Davies charts Fox Sports' production & broadcast future!

Star Sports hosted the SVG Summit in India for the first time.

Mike Davies

Mumbai: The Sports Video Group, admirably known as “SVG”, was formed in 2006 to support the professional community that relies on video, audio, and broadband technologies to produce and distribute sports content. Formed in the U.S, the organisation has expanded to include a European division and also has hosted events in Australia, Japan, and Singapore.

Their aim is to advance the creation, production, and distribution of sports content along with providing knowledge for the growing community of sports video professionals working for broadcast and broadband organisations, schools and leagues, followed by facilitating a dialogue with manufacturers, suppliers and technology developers that improves the quality and profitability of sports programming.

Star Sports hosted the SVG Summit in Mumbai, marking the first time this event was held in India. The event brought together top-level executives from the TV sports production community for a day of networking, tours, panel discussions, technical presentations etc.

Indiantelevision.com on the sidelines of the event, caught up with Fox Sports, EVP, Technical and Field Operations; SVG U.S., Mike Davies. During this interview, Davies shared some valuable insights ranging from collaborative efforts between the US and Indian ecosystems to the exciting future of production and broadcast.

Edited excerpts

On collaborations between the US and India ecosystems playing a role in Fox Sports' production strategies

There are a lot of passionate people in India. In fact with Star and Fox, we used to be the same company and would have formal gatherings to collaborate. We would obviously learn a lot from each other. There's a lot of similarities between cricket and baseball, also a lot of similarities between the studio shows we do. Its really about seeing what has worked, and what hasn't worked at each other's network. It's just about collaboration and sharing. It doesn't happen without the people like Sanjog and PK, and some of the people on my team. The bottom line is we just get along.

On balancing traditional broadcasting methods with emerging digital platforms as consumers are switching their preferences from cable TV to OTT services

Well I think the emerging services can help to support linear and cable offerings in a couple ways. They certainly are more dimensional than it can be donated to a given program or sport, athlete etc. But in terms of live sports on digital, it does allow us to go that much deeper. In the United States, we got college sports like field hockey, softball and different things. Hopefully, those types of sports will become sports that you can watch on linear television in the future.

On some of the biggest challenges you face in maintaining high-quality production standards across diverse sporting events

The challenges are basically balancing cost to quality. In general, technology is supplied and hence good methods have been able to achieve them. For instance, we talked a lot about remote productions, cloud productions etc. Applying these technological tools can solve doing programs that commensurate with the audience for which they apply. For instance, a small college basketball game doesn't get the same production budget as a major league game does. But you're still able to make it look good and you don't have things that look great on your network, things that look garbage. They may not have as many cameras that look good because of this kind of technology.

On data analytics and AI impacting the sports broadcasting, particularly at Fox Sports

If you talk about what goes on the screen, we at Fox Sports certainly get into the sports analytics, but not at the expense of telling actual stories or drama of what's going on. We like visuals. We use analytics to form visuals that can help our audience to extract more data points out of the story, but not at the expense of becoming too techie or too statistically oriented. Now that's not true for everybody, that's just our take.

On trends that would shape the future of production and broadcast media

Well Sanjog said a lot about it during the event and I think this is why we are so aligned. You got several trends in quality meaning high dynamic range in 4k which is a big one. Trends in personalisation, and customisation is that adds something that we could achieve to bring individual fans closer to our sports and being able to constantly evolve to meet the needs of our audience, because if you look at a game, say for example an American football game this season and then you look at one five years ago or ten years ago, you will see all the changes whether be in presentations, graphics etc. Also I think that our audience, especially our younger ones, hopefully can tolerate a little bit of information on screens, a few more quicker cuts or maybe multiple windows replaced on more screens etc, and those were some things which we never even can think about in the last five to ten years.