Media: Double Standards - Sporting fanatics have never had life so good

With viewers now treated to bigger and better sports coverage than ever before, we meet two of the men responsible for a nation of armchair enthusiasts - and endless domestics.

DAVID SHORE - HEAD OF SPONSORSHIP, SKY MEDIA

- What distinguishes your brand of sports coverage?

Sky Sports prides itself on the breadth and depth of its coverage. We now offer more than 100 sports across the portfolio. I also believe Sky Sports has brought a new level of quality and energy to UK sports broadcasting. We were the first to introduce interactive coverage, virtual graphics, Steadicams and ultra-slow motion. And, of course, we're leading the way with high-definition. Then there's our talent. Our team of experts live and breathe their sports.

- What's the most exciting event you've carried so far this year?

I'd have to go for Grand Slam Sunday in December, when we featured Liverpool v Manchester United and Arsenal v Chelsea. But as a long-suffering Swindon Town fan, September's clash between the mighty Robins and Yeovil Town also ranks right up there.

- How have you worked with advertisers to deliver more than spot advertising?

The myriad opportunities surrounding our multiplatform coverage. Our relationship with Ford, which now stretches back over 16 years, encompasses TV sponsorship, mobile, broadband, interactive, pubs and our on-demand service, Sky Anytime on TV. Such multiple touchpoints allow for brand engagement across screens throughout the day. We've also worked with brands such as Nike and Nissan to help them showcase their own bespoke creative long-form content.

- Which TV ads running at the moment really have a good fit with your offering?

I really liked the Carlsberg "Old Lions" commercial. Not only was it a great ad, but, crucially, the brand and the agency had the foresight to commission specific content dedicated for red button. It was one of our most successful interactive campaigns ever, with average dwell times far in excess of four minutes.

- Is football still the biggest draw for audiences and advertisers?

Football consistently delivers large seven-figure audiences. However, there are a host of other sports that deliver audiences attractive to advertisers, not just in terms of scale, but also demographic appeal. Our coverage of the America's Cup saw a host of blue-chip advertisers such as UBS, Santander, Emirates and BMW. And golf, darts, rugby and cricket have all proven to have specific appeal to particular brands.

- What innovations have you recently made to your programming to tempt viewers?

We are soon to add golf and WWE to the list of sports we cover in HD. Interactive multimatch coverage continues to deliver great choice in Uefa Champions League and US Open tennis. And we're also encouraged by the viewer appetite for simulcasts of Sky sport on broadband and mobile.

- Is there a limit to how much sport a healthy person should watch in a week?

Absolutely. And our programming encourages participation as well as viewing and attendance. Sadly, my waistline would suggest that I'm yet to find an appropriate balance.

- How sporty are you?

Not as sporty as I was, although I still turn out for Barnes Vets RFC and Old Emanuel CC. In fact, I'm more of an actor these days. I recently got roped into appearing in a Sky Sports promo for the upcoming Super League season. I spent the whole day being tackled by Paul Sculthorpe (ex-Great Britain captain). Always read the small print!

SIMON CRANE - MANAGING DIRECTOR, EUROSPORT UK

- What distinguishes your brand of sports coverage?

We really offer something to everyone. Through world-class events such as the Olympic Games to the more specific sports that appeal to regional or communities of fans, our key focus is live action. We're inclusive, nationally neutral and offer expert insight into the sports we show.

- What's the most exciting event you've carried so far this year?

I think everyone will agree the Africa Cup of Nations was the most exciting and entertaining football tournament in recent years, with nearly 100 goals, great players and a real spectacle. Having every game live meant we could really bring the event from Ghana to Europe.

- How have you worked with advertisers to deliver more than spot advertising?

Eurosport has always been able to provide creative solutions for advertisers, be that ad-funded programming, programme sponsorship, competitions etc. A good recent example was for Puma and the Africa Cup of Nations. We were able to work with the brand's sporting ambassadors in Ghana, host competitions across Europe and help generate PR for its new product alongside the on-air spots.

- Which TV ads running at the moment really have a good fit with your offering?

Everyone's talking about corporate social responsibility. We talk to specific communities, and this fits very well with our broad geographical reach - two examples of this would be Shell and EDF. Alongside our traditional upscale male audience, we have attracted brands such as Puma and Asics that have a youth outlook. This fits very well with the content on Eurosport 2, as well as our online output.

- Is football still the biggest draw for audiences and advertisers?

Yes, without question. We saw that with the success of the Africa Cup of Nations. However, football is not dominant everywhere in Europe. It may be top in the UK and at Eurosport. Our in-depth coverage of the Premier League and other leading European leagues attracts a large football community. However, a recent ratings study showed that important volleyball and handball competitions generated higher ratings in Europe last year.

- What innovations have you recently made to your programming to tempt viewers?

We always look to innovate in terms of delivery, content and distribution. We have, since 2006, developed our audiences in Asia across 11 countries and will be opening an office in Japan to complement our Hong Kong-based operation. Online, we offer live streaming and scoring locally. We have also developed stronger on-air presentation. More major events now have studio analysis from an strong panel of experts and commentators.

- Is there a limit to how much sport a healthy person should watch in a week?

We feel viewers can watch as much sport as time permits, with time off for earning a living, a bit of sleep and plenty of participation. We believe Eurosport showcases events and athletes that can only inspire participation.

- How sporty are you?

When I am not watching Eurosport, I like to row and have been a decent rugby player. I have been working in sport my whole adult life since leaving the Army.