Skip to main content

Improve Chess II: Chess coverage for a wider audience

06 June 2018

Chess broadcasts are generally produced by strong chess players and the live commentary is aimed at serious chess players. Most chess commentators are Grandmasters, and they speak for an audience level of at least 1800 level. The number of chess players around the globe, however, is divided in a pyramid: the World Champion on top, the rest of the Grandmasters and International Masters in the absolute peak. A relatively small group of players rated over 2000. Then, a decent, chess-loving group of 2000-1600 players. But the big, massive base consists of beginners and players rated up to 1600. My point is: there are more people with a rating of 1200-1400 than of 1400-1600.

And as the big numbers are in the lower rated groups, why do we have chess broadcasts that only target a higher rated audience?

To me, it doesn’t make sense why we have a tournament coverage in multiple languages but not in different levels.  

I think we still have to satisfy the current core of chess audience by renowned Chess Grandmasters in the commentating booth, but we should definitely target the lower rated players and beginners who are interested in certain top level events or top players, but can’t follow a shit of what the likes of Svidler, Williams or even Steil-Antoni say during a chess broadcast. Why don’t we cast entertaining chess teachers who know their target audience and can satisfy the massive, bulky base part of the chess pyramid? 

This might also mean that we have to offer different coverage models, which now is mainly based on live games and a 5-hour live video stream. I would love to see a 20-minute recap of a round where only the two most interesting games get airtime. It should include interviews with the players before and after the game, so we can understand their strategy and emotions much better than when a commentator shows one line after the other. Don’t forget that the chess audience would rather hear from the top player themselves (they are the stars!) than from a commentator.

FIDE and AGON may say there are 650 million chess players across the world, but I think the current chess coverage only attracts 200,000 people. The highest number of concurrent live stream audiences is 100,000 in the 2nd Anand-Carlsen match. Let’s try to expand our coverage to an even bigger mass!