Change the Channel

Yesterday Kyren Wilson became the lowest ranked qualifier in a decade to win a ranking event, overcoming former world no.1 Judd Trump in a titanic tussle that went the distance.

eurosportIt is a moment that the 23 year-old will remember for the rest of his life, as he joins the elite band of individuals who have tasted ranking event success.

His superb Shanghai Masters victory was achieved in an era when the sport is struggling to find young stars as most tournaments become dominated by competitors in their 30s and some even in their 40s.

There’s nothing especially wrong with the fact that the elder statesmen have tended to reap the rewards in the last five or so years, so long as the standard is still of an exceptionally high standard – which it is.

Yet, nothing attracts viewers to a sport more quickly than the sight of an up-and-coming pretender, with fresh appeal and an excitement that has the ability to draw in a new influx, and sometimes breed, of supporters.

Trump himself had this very effect when he burst onto the stage to capture his maiden title at the 2011 China Open, as just weeks later he embarked on a swash-buckling journey to the final of the World Championship as a 21 year-old that had millions around the world mesmerised by his own brand of ‘naughty snooker’.

Isn’t it a shame then that Eurosport failed to provide live coverage of Wilson’s defining moment as he announced himself as a key contender for potentially many years to come.

Much was made about this on Sunday on Twitter, where a fierce debate developed about the lack of any televised option to view the final in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe.

There were arguments for and against Eurosport, many which had merits and a lot of others that didn’t.

I’m certainly not going to get into any slagging match about the broadcaster, which I think has been an amazing asset for snooker throughout the last ten years.

In general, Eurosport do an excellent job and having them on board is integral to the development of the game throughout the continent.

Put simply, most of those European Tour events in the likes of Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Latvia would never have been a possibility without the success of Eurosport’s coverage, and its high viewing figures, in those countries and many more.

However, snooker is a high-profile sport and, as such, there is a responsibility to ensure that the conclusion to important events such as the Shanghai Masters are brought to as many fans as possible.

The argument that there was the option to watch it on the Eurosport Player on your laptop or device for a low monthly cost is weak, not least because there wasn’t even any commentary.

There are those who enjoy the lone sound of clinking balls and the rattling of pockets – myself included from time to time – but the majority of people want commentary for the good and the bad, that’s the reality of it, and particularly in the tense climax to a major competition.

Away from that, even in this digital age, I still believe in the importance of the televised product, and the fact that Eurosport showed the Shanghai Masters live every day until the weekend, when it then had to decide between it and what other sports had to offer, is quite damaging to snooker.

To be fair, in the UK at least, it was always going to be difficult to overshadow Great Britain’s first Davis Cup semi-final appearance in almost 40 years, but then the question perhaps should not be why, but what’s the contingency plan?

This isn’t the first time that Eurosport has had to choose other sports, whether due to contractual reasons or because they simply knew they could find better viewing figures elsewhere is unknown, instead of snooker during a ranking event final weekend.

So, with this prior knowledge, why isn’t there already a better alternative option? Why is there no commentary? Is anything being done to ensure that this problem is eradicated?

I hope so, because it’s a sad shame that so many people missed Kyren Wilson’s dramatic triumph and the moment a budding star in snooker was born.

No Comments

  1. There was no need to miss it, there are many ways to access Eurosport Player, even on your TV. I agree the lack of commentary is a big problem which Eurosport needs to fix (write to them!), but I categorically disagree that this is a weak argument. Media is moving into the digital age, and one needs to move with it. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s definitely good enough!

  2. Eugene Caulfield

    Who could disagree? Excellent.

  3. Pete Farrelly

    Hi. Yes, I have commented on this before, and I would just add that certainly a commentary being available on the Eurosport Player would improve the situation, but I assume that Joe Johnson, Mike Hallett and the team of commentators do NOT travel to the far-flung parts of the world, just sit in a studio somewhere, watch the match on TV screens, and add their valuable thoughts at the time the highlights are screened. However, with the numbers now subscribing to the Eurosport Player presumably increasing, perhaps employing an extra commentator could be afforded to give at least the odd comment when being shown LIVE. Well actually, are TWO commentators actually required on any match?

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