Monday 19 February 2018

'Game On' is a fine show but too much sport is a turn-off

The main problem with new 2fm sports show Game On – nice title, by the way – is that it's on 2fm. There's the slight annoyance of having to change station from Radio 1, Newstalk or Matt Cooper on Today FM: really, the only places to be at drive-time.

There's also the potential horror of switching off after Game On and unthinkingly turning the radio on next morning, to be greeted by hysterical Hector. Let's not dwell on that.

Apart from the 2fm thing, Game On is fine. It's been billed as RTÉ's riposte to Newstalk's Off the Ball, although it's quite different in tone: less anarchic, more of a straight magazine show.

Host Damien O'Meara steers us through an hour of interviews, reviews, discussions and news.

It's breezy and fast-paced but informative too, with a bit of heft to it.

I still think there's too much sport on radio, though. Most weekdays on Newstalk, for example, The Right Hook will have some, which would be fine except it's then followed by a whole three hours of Off the Ball.

Good show, but should it colonise the entire evening, every evening? Don't think so.

Contrary to assumption, and all the hype, lots of people just aren't interested in sport. (Fans point out that such-and-such rugby match attracted an audience of one million; well, that means three-quarters of the population didn't watch.)

I like it fine – many people don't. What about them? Should they just switch off every night? I suppose that's exactly what they do.

I understand that sports programming is relatively cheap to produce, and there's an endless supply of stories and themes to pursue. And hey, anything beats wall-to-wall current affairs.

But what's wrong with more shows about culture, media, technology or any other aspect of life?

For instance, I'm pretty sure far more people watch movies than follow sport.

Yet there's only one dedicated film programme (The Picture Show on Newstalk) across all stations. There's an entire audience being ignored, a market left untapped.

To repeat, there's an assumption that churning out sport is giving people what they want – but to a large extent, it's mistaken.

Irish Independent

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