Opinions on the BBC’s coverage of equestrian sport at this Olympics have been divided.

With the advent of BBC interactive television, the BBC screened in the region of about 68hr of our sport, including three-day eventing, show jumping, dressage and the equestrian section of the modern pentathlon. By contrast, equestrianism at the Sydney Olympics received approximately 19hr of airtime.

A survey by HHO found that although 35% of viewers were disappointed by the coverage, 16% described it as average, 23% rated it as good and 23% as excellent.

The primetime terrestrial coverage of show jumping, eventing and the kür have helped fuel enthusiasm for the sport.

“If you had told me a few years ago that not only would I miss an England international football match, but that I would forget about it completely because of an equestrian three-day event at the Olympics, I would have first said ‘equestrian, what’s that?’ and then ‘are you stark raving mad’?” comments one writer on our website.

Jo Joel writes: “Thank you BBC(i) for transmitting enough of the 3DE, show jumping and dressage. Thank you Pippa, Leslie, Nick and Carl for keeping our flag flying proudly.”

The majority of viewers’ complaints have been from those without access to BBCi — terrestrial coverage has been mainly highlights, and in the region of 10hr.

“For the past two Olympics at least, we have been able to watch most of the three-day event. This time, when we opened our TV magazine to check on the times, we were shocked. The only way we could see all the eventing was to buy interactive digital TV and all we had to do was to invest some more money in ‘freeview’,” says Alastair Ferguson from Stroud, Glos.

A spokesman for the BBC told H&H it was too early to assess viewing figures properly, but that somewhere in the region of six million viewers had tuned in to BBCi.

“The interactive service has helped people who are interested to watch continuously,” he says. “The feedback has been really good on the interactive.”

  • This article first appeared in H&H (2 September 2004)


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