David de Behr: Make seamless viewing part of the programme

David de Behr, global head of events at Aggreko, shares his thoughts on the power of live broadcasting at events.

Major sporting events around the world continue to draw in record TV audiences. The Super Bowl 50 last month was no exception, bringing in an average of 111.9 million viewers in what became the third most watched television broadcast in U.S TV history[1].

These stats provide a stark reminder that, while major event organisers and broadcasters start to address demand for online streaming for sporting events, there is still a thriving, mainstream TV audience to please.

With technology advancing as it has over the past few years, television audiences now view a broadcast disruption as unthinkable. They demand to watch the biggest sporting events without any interruptions. Any disruption that does occur will have implications not only for spectators but for event organisers, stakeholders and sponsors, who must dread the prospect of viewers missing out on iconic sporting moments.

With broadcasting rights alone worth approximately £17bn and growing[2], broadcasters are well aware that losing live feed for even a minute is not something they can afford to do. There are, however, actions event organisers and broadcasters can take to help mitigate the likelihood of this happening.

We know that every event is unique and therefore requires a different power solution, meaning there is no ‘one size fits all’. Indeed, the most complex challenges often arise once the event is underway, so having experienced engineers on the ground is a must. It is also crucial to have strong project management capabilities and a focus on design. It is this essential mix of qualities that should be considered when a power provider is being selected.

Think about the unthinkable and plan to ensure it doesn’t happen should be the mantra.

Pre-empting possible issues and creating flexibility in the way we deliver power is a fundamental component of our strategic event planning. Nothing should come as a surprise to an event organiser, least of all fluctuations in its power needs.

When we plan an event, we safeguard against risk and create flexibility in the way we deliver power. The earlier we get involved in the planning process, the easier it is to identify potential issues, create solutions and mitigate any possibility of disruption.

For us, failure is not an option. When we’re contracted for technical broadcast power, we always try to define our client’s priorities. This could be uninterruptible power, running hours, sustainability or grid availability. Based on these priorities it is important to then offer the best solution. This could be, for example, running synchronised stand-alone units, synchronised units with the grid or units with UPS and the grid.

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/08/media/super-bowl-50-ratings/

[2] http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/international/premium-sports-rights-to-hit-17bn-in-2015/5077554.article