The BBC will transmit live cross-country coverage from this weekend’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this year despite disappointing viewing figures in 2007, but on BBC interactive rather than BBC1 or BBC2.
Full action from Saturday’s cross-country will be shown live on BBC interactive — BBCi, available to anyone who owns a digital TV or digibox — and on Sunday, BBC2 will run a recap of dressage news, at least an hour of cross-country highlights and then show live at least the top six show jumpers.
“Last year, we learnt that people who love horses loved the live coverage, but they also had busy lives. They felt there wasn’t enough on Sunday,” said BBC head of sport Michael Cole.
For the first time last year, BBC2 broadcast live from 12.30-4.30pm on cross-country day. But it was marred by breaks in the action owing to rider withdrawals and a horse fatality — viewing figures reached the 400,000 mark.
“We also learnt that eventing is an unpredictable sport and we decided it was not good for the sport for the public to see a horse being treated for an hour,” added Mr Cole. “Delays like this are less important on interactive.”
During the coverage (Saturday 11-5pm on BBCi; Sunday 1-3pm BBC2), Mike Tucker will lead the commentary, with Clare Balding presenting with help from Tina Cook and other riders.
Mr Cole added: “Horses make beautiful viewing — Badminton is good TV sport and it’s one of my personal favourites.
“It’s only on occasionally and we hope that everyone who knows it is on will watch it.”