The BBC is currently broadcasting a live event. For 3 nights, prime-time evening TV is being given over to… Astronomy.
On paper it doesn’t sound like a televisual feast. The action happens intermittently, the presenters need to be filmed in black and white night vision and the concepts are a lot more difficult than Big Brother voting.
Sections of the yacht racing industry give excuses as to why sailing is not more prevalent on TV. Many are resigned to the sport being ‘niche’ because ” sailing is too complicated to understand.”
In reality, when compared to astronomy, competitive yacht racing has a lot going for it.
Even if you take into account that the BBC is compelled to produce certain types of content, there is no reason why sailing can’t be used to explain concepts around weather, the environment or fluid dynamics!!
If Dara Ó Briain can explain what an inverse square law means to something approaching the speed of light, then the public can probably get their heads around VMG.
This leads me to the probable real reason why Stargazing Live made it to our screens. A recognisable personality fronting it – dare I say a celebrity.
In this case I define a celebrity as someone who is recognised by the mainstream public and its something that sailing broadcasting fails at.
What the sport of sailing needs, whether it be the new America’s Cup, compilations from the Volvo Ocean Race or videos made for Youtube is a combination of non-expert presenter who doesn’t assume any knowledge of the audience and who’s job it is to bring them on a journey of discovery with the help of expert commentary and insight.
The prevailing view in parts of the sport of sailing is to treat the viewing public with a kind of contempt and assume that they can’t understand sailing without the product being dumbed down.
Perhaps we should think about it the other way around and say that if we can get someone to take the time to invest in understanding the complexities, they will become a more long term and thus more valuable fan.
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