BBC Sport – the sports production arm of the UK’s national public-service broadcaster, and rights holder of the World Indoor Bowls Championships.
ITV4 – part of the ITV network and owned by ITV Digital Channels, ITV4 has broadcast the Waterloo Autumn Handicap Crown Green Bowls tournament since 2015.
Gravity Media – then branded Input Media – was commissioned to produce the World Indoor Bowls Championships from 2010 to 2015 by the BBC’s Sport department. This 40 hours of BBC Two network television has been a staple of the terrestrial sports schedule every January.
Our expertise in live bowls production has been further extended by annual high-quality coverage of the historic Waterloo Autumn Handicap Crown Green Bowls tournament, played in Blackpool every September. This project was a sponsorship-funded model, broadcast for 16 hours on ITV4 each year from 2015 to 2018.
Gravity Media brought a new lease of life to the BBC Two coverage of the World Indoor Bowls tournament over five years, revamping the OB coverage and the ‘creative offering’ from the Potters resort in Norfolk. The imperatives were to improve coverage, build-up personalities in a low-key sport, and to widen the appeal of the game to larger audience.
Equally, the Waterloo Crown Green Bowls tournament was re-invigorated by Input Media’s broadcast strategy and tournament staging for ITV programming. The ITV4 coverage saw this historic slice of Northern sporting culture return to a free-to-air platform for the first time in two decades. Live OB coverage of the tournament transmits from 10am to 6pm over two days each September, with extensive coverage of the last-16 round onwards.
Our approach to both these elite bowls tournaments was to revitalise and modernise the core match coverage for the television audience, and to build the characters and recognition of the players.
For the World Indoor Championships, we dispensed with the traditional use of hot-head cameras fixed in the arena ceiling, instead installing long-arm jibs. These jimmy-jibs offered a wide variety of coverage options and allowed for precise and accurate overhead shots showing which player was nearest the jack. The jibs also offered an array of more interesting angles in respect of the trajectory and travel of each bowl as it approached the jack. The different style of coverage was ably supported by the Piero analysis tool and new concentric rings.
Similarly, overhead jibs and a remote-controlled mini-camera hanging from a Simon Tower provided an upgrade to the standard 6-camera OB coverage at the Waterloo Crown Green tournament. And our glossy programme features and player profiles were equally significant in terms of the sport’s editorial development, which were used extensively in both productions. Well-crafted features were successful at developing wider interest in the sport of bowls and its best players – allowing audiences to get acquainted with the sport’s biggest names and most notable personalities.
Gravity Media has a strong and enduring broadcasting relationship with the Waterloo Handicap Committee and ITV4, which allows continued annual coverage of this great Blackpool sporting tradition. The Gravity Media programming has put the sport of Crown Green Bowls back on the map, with a massive surge in interest and entrants for all the major BCGBA competitions, including youth events.
Meanwhile, although we currently no longer produce the BBC Two coverage of the World Indoor Bowls due to the production contract becoming a BBC Nations tender (outside England), our creative and exuberant coverage pushed the indoor game in to a new era and style of television coverage for five successful years.
Gravity Media also forged new social media pathways for the sport, introducing the WBT World Championship and its top players to a much wider audience via numerous digital platforms. We were also particularly effective at using PR and publicity to further cross-promote the game and World Championships event itself, by effectively linking up with BBC campaigns such a BBC ‘Get Connected’ and ‘Sports Relief’.