William Funnell: ‘Livestreaming fits the bill perfectly’ [H&H VIP]

  • There has been a strong reaction to the news that Hickstead will no longer be broadcast on Sky Sports. But do the pluses of livestreaming outweigh the minuses?

    Thirty years ago when showjumping was prime-time viewing, yes there were the characters and everyone tuned in, but look how much more diverse horse sport has become since then. People are now interested in everything from endurance to vaulting to polo at every level. In those days it was all about showjumping and eventing, and the latter was much more an amateur sport. How many people nowadays really want to sit down and watch countless riders clearing a few coloured poles in a sand arena?

    This is where livestreaming fits the bill perfectly — the purists can watch as much as they like, and instead of just being presented with the speed Derby and the Derby itself at Hickstead they are able to watch the 148cms in action or the grade C class if they wish.

    The Hickstead Derby will always attract a wider audience as it’s more of a spectacle. What other show in the UK can get 20,000 spectators through the gate?

    But the success of the Global Champions Tour streaming, which totalled 750,000 for the 2014 season and whose recent broadcast from Miami attracted a record 127,000 viewers alone, proves that for the purists among us this is the way forward. It’s as good, if not better than TV footage because you can watch any round you want, whenever you want, be it on your laptop at home or on your iPhone at the yard.

    And that’s where the generation thing comes in. Young people expect this kind of access, the older generation may need a bit of steerage — if it’s not in the Radio Times, they may not be able to find it.

    Even Pony Of the Year Show’s online popularity proves that it makes perfect sense for shows to have their own channel these days. So while we may have to put up with back-to-back snooker coverage on the BBC — it must be one of the cheaper sports to show — let’s enjoy the access we have to these wonderful shows.

    Super start for Team GB

    Great Britain’s equal second in the first round of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Lummen, Belgium was a great result. Guy Williams proved he has really hit the ground running and Holly Gillott has carried her form from last year.

    It’s nice to see Di Lampard pulling on the experience of new co-selector Derek Ricketts. He knows what the job entails so I’m sure he will be a great asset.

    Ref: H&H 14 May, 2015