After the launch of BT Sport we here at Sportist HQ did wonder how long it would take for Sky Sports to catch up, and i’m not talking about the light up changeable court facility in BT Sport’s studio that they use to demonstrate how the presenters would have done things much better. I am instead talking about the channel’s commitment to women’s sport.
Bottling up the enthusiasm and interest sparked by London 2012, BT Sport have always been clear about their promise to show women’s sport, airing women’s football, tennis, track cycling and….UFC. They’ve even signed up Clare Balding (not to do UFC) and nothing says taking women’s sport seriously like the bastion of the campaign at the forefront of your channel. Here were the new kids, fresh faced, shiny studio-ed and somewhat listening to the people by taking the boys club out of sport. Were Sky just going to ignore them like a teenager does to their irritating younger sibling? Or react like the media organisation who have suddenly realised their channel smells like a boys locker room?
The answer, luckily, was the latter. To give Sky it’s due, during the Ashes this year they did air and promote a lot of the women’s series, even dedicating their Sunday advertising spot in national press to showcasing the women’s game and yes, they do have female presenters and quite liked the Solheim Cup, but that seemed to be the lot. That’s why the sound of chuckling could be heard throughout the halls of Sportist HQ on receiving the press release last week that stated ‘Sky Sports reinforces its unrivalled commitment to women’s sport with three announcements that further support its year-round coverage’. If Sky Sports is leading the way with unrivalled commitment then that puts the state of media coverage of women’s sport into perspective somewhat.
However I am not here to mock nor scorn for things done in the past, but instead to look forward and celebrate. This means that now not only can women’s sport look forward to all of the already mentioned coverage on BT Sport but can add netball…and well…netball (home internationals and 12 superleague rounds) to it’s list. However, although they haven’t declared airing any other actual sport on tv, Sky have also teamed up with The Sunday Times to cover the prestigious Sportswomen of the Year 2013 awards and have launched ‘Sportswomen’ over on Sky Sport News, a 30 min weekly show with all the news, views and analysis on the world of women’s sport hosted by Hayley McQueen.
Its a start and regardless of whatever motivation lies behind the decision to up coverage of female sport, surely this can only be a good thing.