Broadcasting Britball Live with Onside Productions
Broadcasting Britball live with Online Productions
As British American Football has embraced modern technology, one of the most exciting developments has been the introduction of the “Live Stream”. Bringing the action directly to your “device” of choice, it’s given fans the opportunity to catch all the action has it happens, if they have been unable to get to the venue. Add in the play by play analysis and the instant replays and you have a great vehicle to showcase the game.
At the forefront of this medium are Onside Productions, who are now the provider of choice for Britball teams. The brainchild of broadcast engineer Steve Matthews, and originally known as “Caesars TV”, Steve is a former player for the Nottingham Caesars, they are likely to provide the coverage for most of the high-profile games you can watch.
I spoke with Steve to get a better understanding of his motivation for launching the service. “I saw some old photos of Nottingham Hoods games and was inspired by the size of the crowds. Onside was created for pushing the awareness of UK Britball. We want to bring the quality of an NFL broadcast to the game but still be affordable for smaller clubs and establishments. We are not in this for mega bucks but in it to help smaller events get seen. I love my role as Executive Producer. I get to produce the onscreen content, and the buzz of knowing what people are seeing and enjoying is what I’m putting together while on air. We are expanding and have an EXCELLENT core foundation of freelancers that all share my vision about football. Next steps for onside are just to better ourselves on the previous broadcast and bring in better kit in order to put on a class production. We have adjusted the company slightly to be an OB supplier (outside broadcast supplier) our product is working in Varsity series around the UK. I think it’s safe to say we just all love sport!!”
Although Steve is orchestrating things behind the scenes with the support of his business partner Tom Howe, the broadcasts are brought to life by the play by play commentary team of Matt Walker and George Lees. Both former players themselves, I asked them how they got involved. Walker is enthusiastic regarding his involvement “I was introduced to the sport in the mid 80’s when my Dad brought home a Niners Montana jumper that someone had given him at work - my passion for the Niners was born!!! We knew nothing about the sport at that point, but it had just started to be show on Channel 4 and I remember watching Super Bowl XX at the end of my first season! I was a regular spectator at the Nottingham Hoods and the likes of Allan Brown and AJ Okiwe inspired me to want to play WR, oh and someone called Jerry Rice!! I remember going along to the then Junior Hoods practices well before I was old enough to play for them! When I was old enough I joined the Junior Hoods and carried on playing for the team as they transformed into the Caesars. I played alongside Britball legends such as Albert Thompson, Gary Stainton, Adi Giles and Steve Boseley, and introduced Scott Messom to the game too!! Following a season ending knee injury, I went to university away from Nottingham and struggled to find a way to continue my football passion for that period. I returned to Nottingham following my degree and approached Barry Boseley to see if I could assist with coaching. He asked if I’d consider forming a Junior section to the now Senior Caesars to which I jumped at the chance! I successfully set up and ran the Nottingham Caesars Juniors for 10 years, from a flag outfit to a full 11 v 11 kitted team. Players such as Will Hobbs, Jamie Gallagher and Dan Johnson came through the Junior setup and continue to make great strides in the British and European game today. Due to family commitments I left the Caesars Juniors and my former student and player, George Lees took over and has led the team from strength to strength, reaching two national finals in the last two seasons. Whilst I was assisting with the Juniors at this point, Steve Matthews approached me to ask if I’d be interested in commentating on a trial stream of the Caesars, and I jumped at the chance! The rest, as they say is history, Caesars TV proved so popular that it became Onside Productions! We now cover the Caesars home games, Falcons home games, BAFA National Finals, BUCS Finals and are even venturing into other sports and events!! The thing I enjoy most about broadcasting is the fact that I can still be involved with the sport I love and share my passion with fans around the country! Steve Matthews, Tom Howe and the crew at Onside do a fantastic job and are forever looking at how our production can be improved to provide as professional a broadcast as possible. I’m a PE teacher by trade and as such have no media training whatsoever (as you can probably tell on Gameday!!!) but I love the opportunity to be able to bring the game we love to a wider UK audience!”.
As you will have read, Walker and Lees already had a connection before Onside, Lees elaborated on his role. “I got involved with Onside through the Nottingham Caesars. As you know I am the current junior HC at the club. I wanted to do my bit in promoting both the club and game in the U.K. I like to think we are successful in doing that. Of course, we can always do more. I know Steve and Tom our directors are always pushing for progression. What's it like working with Matt? Interesting to say the least. I enjoy working with him, I hope he enjoys working with me but more importantly I hope that comes across on our broadcasts. If the presenters are enjoying it, then hopefully those watching are as well. We have known each other for the best part of 13/14 years now. He was one of my school teachers and my American Football HC. I think that helps, and it's built a good chemistry between us. Before a game, I spend a few hours during the week researching the teams and their players. Matt also has a research questionnaire that he sends out to each team. Some teams are really good and give plenty of information and others, not so much. This can often lead to appearing a little biased on broadcasts, but we try to be as unbiased as possible. The more information we have to talk about, the better!! Overall, it's great fun to be a part of the Onside team. I hope we can continue to help do our part to improve the game in the U.K.”
Having watched a lot of the Online streams, I can confirm that their mission for constant improvement is happening. It’s notable that the production values are improving each time they air, with excellent on-screen graphics, sideline interviews and those all important instant replays. If you want to catch up on some previous games, you can find their channel on YouTube. Steve, Tom and their crew should be commended for their efforts, they have certainly moved Britball forward. If you have an event that you want to stream, look them up on Facebook.