SABC – bringing the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon to you
05 February 2016
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Great things start here, great things start now. I’m Brad Brown, it’s good to be with you, thank you for joining us here on Old Mutual Live today. We’re joined by the GM on the television side of things at SABC, our national broadcaster, Keletso Totlhanyo. Welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thank you for joining us today.
Keletso Totlhanyo: Thank you so much Brad.
BB: It’s good to have you with us. I can’t believe it’s just under eight weeks to go to race day of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. SABC all geared up, I mean this is a big production, it’s not easy to get something like this right, but the planning starts way in advance.
KT: Yes, the planning of productions like this, it’s very early. In fact, to be precise, we’re supposed to start at the end of, like last year’s broadcast. We’re supposed to start planning for the new year and today we’re down here for the sponsors forum.
Then tomorrow it’s our route recce where we go with the sponsors, but we’ve done that. We’ve done sort of a dry run, as the broadcaster, to do our own route recce. But now we’re involving the sponsors who decide on camera positions and if there’s anything that we need to do to improve this year’s broadcast, tomorrow will be the day to make the final decisions.
BB: Keletso, why is it so important for our national broadcaster, SABC, to be involved in a race like the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon?
Old Mutual Two Oceans is a national event
KT: Despite the fact that Two Oceans Marathon is listed, so it’s a public mandate for us to broadcast, but it is also good for our own broadcast. We’ve had this relationship for the longest time. If I remember well, it’s been more than 26 years that we’ve been broadcasting Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon.
As a result, it’s one event that every other person out here in South Africa would like to see or watch on television and listen on the radio station as to who is where. Besides the fact that it’s a preparation of other races, including Comrades.
But for us, it’s very important for us to give the people the pictures, besides, Two Oceans Marathon is a beautiful race. Besides showing people running, we are also, it’s part of tourism for us, to show the beauty of South Africa on television.
Luckily we do broadcasts on the internet, so it helps, it’s not just for the people in South Africa that get to see the beauty of the race and the country, even people who are outside the country are able to see what we’re delivering out there.
Streaming the race to an international audience
BB: I wanted to ask you about the move to streaming the race live. I know a lot of runners who are internationals, not ex pat South Africans, there are lots of ex pat South Africans out there, but just runners globally who love the running scene in South Africa. Cause it is so rich and it’s just an amazing place to run. The move to stream it live, is it just to provide a second opportunity for people to watch or are you specifically targeting that international market?
KT: We are specifically targeting the international market. I know, for a fact, that our aim is to even go to the extent of marketing the race to the real broadcasters, your ESPN, your Sky, for in future for them to take the real television broadcast from us. But in the meantime, we are giving people the opportunity out there to watch on the internet.
BB: Keletso, putting a production like this together, it doesn’t happen overnight, you mentioned the planning, can you share with us some of the numbers with regards to, I don’t know if you’ve got the numbers at hand. But with regards to the number of cameras and that sort of thing. Can you share with us what goes into a broadcast like this?
A massive TV production
KT: Yes, we use, in total about 40 cameras for the broadcast, four presenters, main anchor based in the studio at the finish and obviously along the road we have reporters to just give us an update as to what’s happening. Then we also have a presenter down at the bottom, at the finish, who is going to do interviews with the winners and stuff like that.
Then we have 10 commentators, about 10 commentators and the new innovation for this year is the Eye in the Sky. We are going to have one of our commentators in a helicopter and giving us the different view of the race up there. Then we also use about 80 members of production crew.
BB: That’s huge!
KT: Then we have three bikes and two helicopters. The one helicopter follows the ladies race and then the one helicopter follows the men’s race and the three bikes, one sits with the lead guys and with the ladies and then the other one commutes between the two, so that we can just be able to give people a better update on the race itself.
BB: One thing, you were saying to me before we got on air, obviously you’re committed, you want to try and make this broadcast as best as possible, what are some of the things you’re working on that obviously have been challenges, in previous broadcasts. What do you want to improve on in 2016?
Always improving the product you see
KT: Look, our main challenge has been graphics. The information that people get at home, we had the system crashing two years in a row. We have engaged with Two Oceans Marathon to improve on that, but on our side as well, we are bringing in GPS’s. What we picked up worked well is that at Comrades we had the cyclists, they were sponsored by, I can’t remember, the medical guys –
BB: Who were involved with Comrades, was it Bonitas?
KT: Yes, Bonitas, we have cyclists from Bonitas that helps us with the GPS and they are able to give us concrete information as to where are the runners, who is in that group and all that. So, we’re bringing that to Two Oceans and hopefully it’s going to improve a lot so that now we give better information.
One thing that got to me, especially last year, is that Caroline, who was our female winner, we only got to pick her up towards the end where she was overtaking a group of people. We don’t want to do that. We want to be able to cover, because whether we know you as a runner or not, we need to be able to put it out there so that people can know and follow exactly where you are. We want to improve on information, on following the race even better.
We are hoping to add more cameras and I mentioned about 40 cameras, we probably will add more cameras for us to be able to catch that and the other thing we want to do, we are going to have the build up to the race, we are going to have inserts played on iBroadcast.
It would be more human related stories but we don’t want to leave it there, we want on race day, those very people that we profiled, we want to have some kind of cameras with them so that we can have their own content and towards the end, after the race, I mean after the leaders arrive at the finish, we’ll then start showing that kind of content along the route.
We’ll be checking these guys and we’ll give people an update as to what’s happening with them, where are they and I hope that this will actually improve the coverage. Now, lately, because of technology, people want to be part of the broadcast, people want to know who and where is where. So we want to get that information directly from the runner himself, give us that information and the people at home can be able to follow and engage.
We did that last year as well, it’s on Twitter where we have Snap-TV. Snap-TV is more action of the people running on Twitter. We want to improve on that one and people can engage even more. People like their views to be mentioned on TV and radio and we want to give people an opportunity to be able to do that. Instagram is one thing that we also started introducing last year and we’re going to go big on those two in this year’s race.
BB: Keletso, it sounds amazing and I think as a runner myself and someone who loves the sport, I think that’s all we can ask for, is just that every year it keeps getting better. I think those plans sound amazing and we look forward to seeing how it does go on race day and I’ll be the first one to admit, obviously I come from a broadcasting background, so I understand the challenges that you guys are presented with too, probably more than most normal average runners. But I think you guys, obviously keep up what you’re doing and we look forward to seeing what the 2016 broadcast is like and let’s see, hopefully we can work alongside the SABC at Old Mutual Live and make things happen.
KT: Quite interesting is that I started, I got challenged by the marketing manager, Stephanie last year, to run the 21km. I finished in 3 hours. This year I’m running again, I hope I’m going to improve on my time, so I’ll be like you one day and say: I’m a runner myself.
BB: I love it, if you’re running the 21, you’re a runner already, so there’s no debating. Keletso, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live, much appreciated and best of luck in the build up to race day.
KT: Thank you so much.