BBC viewers able to opt out of dressage commentary [H&H VIP]

  • Dressage fans will soon be able to choose whether or not they would like to hear commentary during televised competitions on the BBC, following criticism during Olympia.

    The BBC said it is too early to be specific about Rio 2016, but that “wherever possible” the broadcaster will now be offering the option of a non-commentary feed for freestyle dressage shown on the red button.

    “We’re constantly looking at ways to enhance the experience, and acknowledge that some didn’t enjoy the dressage commentary at Olympia this year,” Liz Thorburn, producer of the BBC’s equestrian coverage, told H&H.

    “As the sport is currently riding high on the success of Charlotte Dujardin and the British team, we felt it was important that any new viewers who tuned in to watch the freestyle for the first time were provided with commentary that gave them access to what can be a complex sport to follow.”

    However, not everyone appreciated the feed — H&H received several complaints from readers after Olympia regarding the voice-over.

    “What a fantastic evening of dressage we were able to watch on the red button, but what a pity it was ruined by the commentary. Had this been the grand prix no doubt a commentary might have been helpful, but this is dressage to music — we need to hear the music,” said Caroline Reavell.

    Janette Bamland wrote to H&H as she thought the BBC television analysis “ruined the dressage performances”. She added: “Someone was talking throughout the tests and it spoilt the performances for those of us watching.”.

    Ms Thorburn said the organisation now wants to give fans the choice.

    “With giving viewers the option of a non-commentary feed for freestyle dressage, wherever possible, on the red button, we hope to cater for all needs and levels of understanding of the sport, bringing the best to both the newcomers and those with more knowledge of dressage at the top level,” she said.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 15 January 2015