In the first of a major series, SportsPro meets some of the key players at pan-European broadcaster Eurosport. First up is Eurosport Group’s director of broadcasting and programmes, Julien Bergeaud.
What are you working on at Eurosport today?
Right now we are planning for the 90th edition of Le Mans 24 hours. The American actor Patrick Dempsey, of Grey's Anatomy fame, is competing this year. We have unique access to his warm-up races and inside his team which we will be broadcasting in a series of shows in the coming months, leading up to Le Mans itself. We are also concentrating on the 100th edition of the Tour de France and our on-site production. This year we are also developing a series that will see amateur riders tackling the most iconic stages with top professionals as their mentors, which will be very interesting. Finally Maurice Greene has a new show where he meets the top track and field stars in the countdown to the Athletics World Championships. He is spending time with some big names and hopefully a well known Jamaican sprinter.
How long have you been in the sports industry/how did you get to where you are today?
I started in sports with Eurosport in October 1999. I initially worked on negotiations in TV rights sales and became director of rights sales and acquisitions. Then in 2010, after 11 years, I took on a new Eurosport role as director of programming and broadcasting, which combines my two passions of sport and TV. For me the thing that has most helped my career has been good negotiation skills. I need to maximise ratings to support the work of our sales and distribution departments in meeting their commercial targets. That can mean balancing the TV schedules between the big headline events such as Roland Garros and events with a smaller profile which are attractive to advertisers.
"I turned towards entertainment and worked for a record company and then TV5 in France before Eurosport. The friends I studied finance with may be wealthier, but I think I have more job satisfaction"
Was there a single decision or moment which most affected your career?
I studied finance and took internships in banks and corporate finance departments and realised it was not where I wanted to work. So I turned towards entertainment and worked for a record company and then TV5 in France before Eurosport. The friends I studied finance with may be wealthier, but I think I have more job satisfaction.
What are the key challenges in your role?
Delivering the best possible TV ratings, while monetising the content and making it attractive to our advertising and distribution platform partners.
What defines success for you?
Bill Cosby said: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody". My view to be successful is the opposite - please as many people as possible, as often as possible.
What one achievement are you most proud of in your career?
Since I have taken on this role I am proud of the fact ratings have improved year on year. We operate in a global entertainment industry and there is fierce competition so to continue to attract better audiences is very satisfying.
Can you point to any trends to look out for in your field over the coming year?
Eurosport has long been recognised for its depth of coverage and expertise across many sports, sports with a big "S". For me I see the trend moving more towards entertainment alongside live sports action. Sport has a fascination for people and you can see it appearing more in entertainment formats. The diving show ‘Splash’ for example or ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or ‘Dancing on Ice’ are already popular programmes. In these difficult times people want to be entertained so I am looking out for new sports entertainment series for our primetime slots.