Radio was once the go-to way of following live sport, with a talented commentary team and the sounds of the stadium being beamed through speakers across the UK.
Over the decades, televisions have become much more prevalent, with there being even more options to track or watch live sport online.
However, radio is still playing a significant role across several of the most popular sports in the country. People of all ages find themselves tuning into the radio due to the modern set-up of many of the biggest sports.
So, we’re going to delve into some of the ways in which the radio continues to serve sports fans – and not just while they’re driving around.
Even though there are now as many as five television companies covering the top competitions of British and international football, they can’t show all of the games; they can’t even show all of the games from the Premier League each week. With the 3 o’clock Saturday blackout still very much in force, fans have to turn to alternate means to tune into the action.
There are many live score shows and live trackers online, but it’s the radio that allows for the closest and most in-depth live coverage of matches. If you want to follow one particular game, you’re bound to be able to find a national or local station that’s providing live coverage.
With the right team, in some ways, listening to the radio for football can be better than on TV, especially if the match at hand isn’t particularly entertaining.
While other sports command a devout following for teams, athletes, and leagues, greyhound racing is very different. Much like horse racing, the sport primarily revolves around the sports betting side as opposed to the following of storylines and tournaments. As such, watching the action isn’t as much a need as in other sports, but following the action when you bet on the races is needed for the entertainment factor.
An excellent radio commentary team can make the sport of dogs running in a circle incredibly entertaining, with some quick and scrambling vocals adding extra energy to the experience. As you’ll find that there are races starting every 20 minutes across several UK and Ireland tracks, when you take odds on greyhound racing, having a radio station that keeps the ongoing race schedule exciting is key to enjoying the sport.
Some of the greatest boxing matches of all time were perfectly captured by radio commentary – particularly for UK followers in the age when America was boxing’s home.
Now, with boxing roaring back to the headlines and British boxers leading the way, perhaps the only sticking point for many fans is the pay-per-view cost. While not all fights demand an upfront fee, they are still mostly carried by subscription television services.
It’s an expensive sport to follow, and the PPV costs for fights held abroad and out of hours don’t get reduced, so many people turn to live radio coverage. In fact, for Joshua v Ruiz Jr II in Saudi Arabia, BBC Radio 5 Live received one million listens for the big night of boxing.
With PPV costs going up and local heroes looking to more countries to stage their events, radio could play an even more pivotal role for boxing fans in the years to come.
Radio upholds its relevance across popular UK sports thanks to its accessibility, the spread of coverage, and, most importantly, the quality commentating which offers an exciting experience.