Career Prospects in Sports Broadcasting – The ultimate guide for graduates on choosing your ideal career in sports broadcasting
Sport on television has exploded in the 21st century. The likes of BT Sport and Sky Sports have changed how we watch sport forever. No longer are we consigned to the television, but we can now watch all sports on our mobile devices on a train, plane, in a coffee shop or in the bath.
The red button, Super HD, even virtual reality is now playing its part in the coverage of live sport. But it’s not just the presenters like Gary Lineker or Gabby Logan who make the sports broadcasting giants tick. There are a whole host of role behind the scene that make Sky’s Super Sunday the success that it, and its rivals, is…
Setting up microphones, checking levels, ensuring the location of the recording suits the required needs may not sound overly exciting, but a sound technician is one of the most important members of the broadcasting team… after all, the viewers need to be able to hear what’s going on! The sound tech will be able to hear everything to an acute level and have immense knowledge of their specialist field, not to mention be a superb problem solver. Whether as a live broadcast or as part of a recorded show, the sound tech will be responsible for mixing the sound, which could range from multiple microphones to over dubbing external noise such as a theme tunes. If you’re not studio based, expect to travel from location to location E.G. stadiums for sports broadcasting.
How many times have you watched Monday Night Football or the Olympics and thought, ‘That’s an amazing fact. How did the presenter know that?’. The chances are the team of researchers behind the scenes brought it forward, along with numerous other nuggets of information. Away from fact finding, a researcher will be full of ideas on how to develop a programme and report into the producer. Does the show need to interview three academy players from the Premier League? The researcher will use their book of contacts to find the right people. Does it need clips from the archive of a classic Six Nations match? The researcher will find the best ones.
Did you know a studio and outdoor broadcast requires different lighting? In fact, a lighting technician will tell you that too much sunlight will seriously hinder the final output of a production. Artificial lighting though allows the look and feel of a production to be controlled. Viewers want to see Gary Neville and Graeme Souness giving their thoughtful half-time analysis. What they don’t want to see though is there sweat from heavy lighting. Health and safety needs to be considered as you’ll be dealing with big units and a lot of electricity. You’ll also need to be a good communicator dealing with the producer, floor manager and director.
Whoever thought of the now famous yellow ‘ticker’ that breaks the stories on Sky Sports News must be the most popular colleague in the office. They will also have been a graphic designer and part of the team that helps to create the information graphics that surround the presenters during live broadcast. A graphic designer will also be tuned into the live stats from a broadcast – those possession and shots on target graphics don’t just happen by themselves.
A news writer must write in a clear, concise manner and in way that is completely different to traditional print journalism. The different set of skills require here mean you must ensure the text being read out tells the story straight away – a listener can’t go back and read or listen to it again. As well as writing the news, you’ll research and fact check, coordinate with other departments to ensure a quality news production and develop stories for further features. This tile involves being at the forefront of the news and the national conversation, sport or otherwise.
The floor manager role is one of the most popular in television production. While the sound and video teams capture the production, the floor manager and their team are responsible for the set looking great. They must make sure the props – chairs, desk, sponsor boards etc. – are in the correct position and used appropriately. You’ll be the direct link between the producer or director and the team on camera, ensuring everyone is working from the same page and the correct messages are relayed – this is especially important in a live production. On a live production, every second counts and everyone involved, public facing or not, must know their place and what time they should be there – this is also your responsibility. Impeccable organisational skills are absolute demanded in this role.
Sports television presenter
Sky Sports News changed the way we consume sports news forever when it launched at the end of the 20th century. Now, viewers expect presenters and reporters on television to have their fingers on the pulse around the world on the hottest sports stories. Whether it’s reporting from a training ground on transfer deadline day, or interviewing a player pitch side after a game, the role has expanded. An able presenter or television reporter will be expected to know how to package a story into two minutes of engaging content, source the best quotes and challenge interviewees on live television under immense pressure. Structure and editing skills are also required. Previous guest speakers at UCFB, such as Gabby Logan and Hayley McQueen, have highlighted the perks of the job – interviewing great personalities, attending illustrious sporting occasions – so this career choice is much sought after.
Match day commentator
Martin Tyler, John Motson, Jon Champion… the list of great commentators just rolls off the tongue. Every iconic moment in modern football history is accompanied by poetic words from wonderful voices. In the 21st century commentary even stretches to e-sports, with EA Sports FIFA game now seeing the advance of e-commentators. The best commentators are constantly researching and full of knowledge – a 0-0 bore draw can be worth watching if the commentator knows the teams inside out. Students at UCFB have the advantage of learning from best in the business, with exclusive match day commentary classes headed by the pros taking place throughout the academic year which includes attending live matches to practice newly learnt skills.
Those who claim radio broadcasting is a dying art clearly don’t listen to the likes of BBC Five Live and TalkSport. Whether it’s match commentary, live event coverage, news reports, interviews or the consistently fun fan phone-ins, radio covers a huge range of journalistic skills. Much like a TV presenter, a radio host will be expected to know how to package a story, source the best quotes and challenge interviewees live on air under immense pressure. UCFB students have previously gained work experience at the likes of BBC Five Live and TalkSport to further expand their knowledge.
Video content is now more prominent than ever, with the likes of YouTube and short social media videos playing a hugely important role in how we consume our video content. Leading football and other sports clubs and organisations are increasingly employing their own in-house videos team to create fun, engaging and informative videos for all audiences. This is on top of the household name broadcasters snapping up the best talent available to expand their growing sporting portfolios. A video producer is at the front of the action, wherever it might be, and is responsible for bringing the sports industry into the homes of millions. UCFB graduate Alexander Brown started his sports career at Burnley FC as a video producer, and now works with the England national team at The FA, recently finding himself in Russia for the 2018 World Cup.
When deciding on your perfect career in the sports broadcasting industry, we hope this information has helped you to decide on which one is best for you.