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Mediapack client British Canoeing moved into the mainstream broadcast space this summer with their new show on Sky Sports Arena – ‘Go Canoe!’ Mediapack was tasked with creating 16 magazine packages to go into the programme, which featured all the key action from the Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom World Cups.

While the full programme was exclusive to Sky, Mediapack’s magazine packages have now taken up residence on British Canoeing TV, the channel we set up for British Canoeing in 2010, to provide engaging content for the London 2012 Olympics. The channel achieved over 200,000 views up until the end of the games, when Mediapack handed over management of the channel to British Canoeing communications staff.  Since then, we’ve focussed solely on producing content for the channel, including the forerunner to ‘Go Canoe!’, ‘The Canoe Show’.

All 16 ‘Go Canoe!’ packages are available to watch online and feature Mediapack’s own Helen Reeves as anchor presenter.  The series was produced to an extremely short lead time, with all the packages being delivered within 11 weeks of the commencement of pre-production. Although this placed constraints on the scope of production and meant that the packages had to be filmed very much in a newsreel style, the on water action combined with the personalities of the contributors provided a really engaging window on the sport, revealing canoeing disciplines that many people may not have experienced before.

In Helen’s role as a contributing commentator for the BBC’s Olympic coverage, she focusses purely on Canoe Sprint and the discipline in which she won her Olympic medal in Athens – Canoe Slalom. ‘Go Canoe!’ covered practically every competition discipline there is, from Canoe Polo to Marathon and Wild Water Racing, with Helen getting on the water to try out each one. This was often quite a challenging experience, especially in disciplines such as Canoe Freestyle, which demanded a whole new skillset to Helen’s previous Canoe Slalom experience.

Mediapack worked alongside the production company responsible for delivering the World Cup coverage – Hit The Roof – to produce ‘Go Canoe!’, with Hit The Roof handling the competition elements, compilation of the overall programme and the broadcast uploads. Helen also voiced the whole show, adding voice over commentary and anchor voice parts to the final edit, once Mediapack’s packages had been incorporated into the main show templates.

‘Go Canoe!’ is an excellent example of the opportunities available to sports organisations to achieve mainstream TV coverage.  By combining competition coverage with magazine packages to give the audience a far broader experience of the sport, it’s possible both to entertain existing fans and engage with new audiences, who may be discovering the sport for the first time.

The magazine packages offer an opportunity to entertain, present back stories and show the human side of competition. They enable the viewer to meet new athletes and to learn about the sport in a relaxed way that doesn’t require an understanding of the rules of the game. This more complete entertainment experience is also far more appealing to broadcasters than simply coverage of the competition itself, increasing the potential for the show to be picked up.

The same principle can also apply to any genre or organisation. Mediapack’s experience in the field of ‘factual entertainment’ means that even the most niche subject can become an engaging piece, using documentary techniques and a magazine show format. It’s all about identifying the subject matter and the people that can feature.

Helping organisations realise the opportunities to engage with mainstream TV and other media is a key part of the Mediapack service. We work with them to develop material that can provide broadcasters or media websites with valuable, entertaining content and this activity sits comfortably alongside their existing social output.  TV and social channels consume content at an incredible rate and there is a constant need for fresh, interesting material. At Mediapack we’re working to bridge that gap between organisations and the mainstream media, so that they can reach larger, broader audiences.

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