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sbahnhof 7182 posts since 29 Oct 2016
When did TV channels start to screen a continuous reminder of the score on live sport – and how did it evolve? That's the subject of this thread.

By its nature, the use of a near-constant scoreboard on TV was aimed at more casual viewers. Until the 1990s, only a few graphics would usually appear during a football game – The Football Attic explains how World Cup graphics evolved in this era. Other sports differed slightly, but the scorebar was one of the biggest visual changes in sports coverage. Nowadays, some score-bugs are aimed at the most dedicated fans and are completely bewildering to outsiders.

The received wisdom is that Sky Sports invented it in 1992, but there had been innovations elsewhere – in Australia, World Series cricket made heavy use of graphics. From 1981 onwards, the score popped up in the corner whenever a run was scored in WSC. It wouldn't add up to a large proportion of game time, no more than a quarter. Maybe 50% if England were bowling.

Australia v Pakistan, 14.01.1982 / Australia v West Indies, 11.02.1984 (watermarks removed)
* *

Snooker also had frequent score updates at important points in a frame (e.g. in the 1985 final).

(UPDATE) This thread has determined that Sky didn't invent it. There was a scoreboard in 1983/1984 on Channel 4 basketball, for about 90% of game time. (Thanks Closedown)

A few questions for anyone who isn't bored yet:

– When existing channels added the scorebar, was it mentioned on-air?
– Was a continuous score graphic attempted anywhere else before '92?
– When was the last live UK football game without the score staying onscreen? (By choice, rather than an error.)
– First use of scorebars in any other sport / in other countries?
– First use in highlights/MOTD
– Your favourite designs?
– When would a decent-looking scorebar/clock have first become technically feasible?

Below (split to avoid one gigantic post) are some of the first games in the '90s to employ the device, found using YouTube videos and game info from the excellent ITV Carousel and a Digital Spy thread. More info and corrections would be appreciated.
Last edited by sbahnhof 7 on 2 December 2016 10:15pm
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Brekkie gave kudos
sbahnhof 7182 posts since 29 Oct 2016
So, the idea later spread to American football as the "Fox Box", in 1994:
Quote:
Four scores and seven years ago, Fox planted a continuous time-and-score graphic on its NFL inaugural, igniting the Fox Box fashion trend and inciting controversy.

"We got calls from press and public saying, `It's impossible to watch a game with that thing on the screen!' We got death threats," remembers Ed Goren, president/executive producer. "David Hill (Fox Sports CEO) said, `Don't worry, I tried it in England; after the first week there were half the complaints and the third week it was 25 percent. He was correct. Now people don't want sports without it."

He is correct. The Fox Box was a godsend for audio-impaired bar patrons and channel surfers. Because it didn't erode ratings, it was regaled as a wonder drug.
https://business.highbeam.com/62653/article-1G1-78966185/evolution-fox-box



which brings us to:

SKY SPORTS

Apparently, the original Sky scorebar was an Australian executive's idea:
Quote:
"David Hill, chairman of the Fox Sports Television Group, developed it after being frustrated by tuning in late to a soccer match on television and being unable to find out the score."

(Raney/Bryant, Handbook of Sports and Media)


A tad selfish? But it went ahead, with graphics seemingly supplied by a Sega Mega Drive:

Leeds v Liverpool, Charity Shield, 08.08.1992

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* * *

The following week in the new Premier League, a clunkier look. The clock was reset to 00:00 at half-time and the words "SECOND HALF" added:

Man City v QPR, 17.08.1992

*

* * *


The next weekend, the background box was removed, leaving only tiny text that was nearly the same colour as the pitch:

Liverpool v Arsenal, 23.08.1992

*

The next night, something a bit clearer...

Southampton v Man Utd, 24.08.1992

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And finally they added a border box, creating the basic template that lasted for the next few years:

Ipswich v Spurs, 30.08.1992

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Surely the only time a channel has used four designs in one month in the same league!

Sky was still using the above early in the 1993-94 season, then at some stage they turned it yellow and added (or rather reintroduced) their branding, "SKY"/"LIVE".

Bayern v Norwich, 19.10.1993 / Blackburn v Aston Villa, 11.04.1994

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(Screenshots from TJS Sports/Footballondvd/TJS/TJS/sp1873/TJS on YouTube and Dailymotion)
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Last edited by sbahnhof 7 on 3 September 2017 12:00am
1
Steve Williams gave kudos
sbahnhof 7182 posts since 29 Oct 2016
ITV

ITV's main football in 1992-93 was Rangers' Champions League run, English regional coverage, and the League Cup. Nobody seems to have tried copying Sky's idea during that season, although on networked games ITV did print reminders of the score a bit more frequently.

The last known 'DOGless' ITV games were a crazy pair in May 1993 – Poland v England in Chorzów, and the playoff final. Shame they didn't pioneer Taylor's Shout-Out as a regular half-time feature.

* * *

In the summer of 1993, the regions and network started to add scorebars. The first use might have been on England-Germany schoolboys (05.06.1993), or Man Utd-Arsenal (25.07.1993, Granada/LWT), but YouTube has opted out of those.
A week later, LWT displayed the score during the Makita tournament games with Chelsea, Ajax, Spurs and Lazio. Like most scorebars of the era, it was switched off after every goal:

Tottenham v Lazio (LWT), 31.07.1993



* * *

The nationally networked games soon followed:

Kispest Honvéd v Man Utd, 15.09.1993
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Then they flicked an ITV Sport logo into the corner

Netherlands v England, 13.10.1993
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before choosing a more compact look.

Sheff Wed v Man Utd, 02.03.1994
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Granada and Yorkshire added their own designs in 1993-94, but Central doesn't seem to have used scorebars regionally until the following season:

Bolton v Forest, 26.09.1993 (Gran.) / Barnsley v Grimsby, 07.11.1993 (YTV) / Swindon v Port Vale, 14.08.1994 (Cen.)

* * *

Central's reluctance is a bit surprising, as Central was producing nationwide coverage with the graphics at the time. Either someone in charge didn't like it, or they were afraid that their viewers wouldn't.


(Screenshots from sp1873, cestrian81, VintageWednesdayVids, BWFC, Cartonboy, & Swindon-Town-FC on YouTube)
Last edited by sbahnhof 7 on 13 November 2016 6:25am
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rdobbie and Steve Williams gave kudos
sbahnhof 7182 posts since 29 Oct 2016
BBC

The BBC waited until after ITV, but their first scorebar was a design that stuck.

The new graphics came in gradually on BBC live games in autumn 1993. They displayed the clock continuously in the tense last 10 minutes of Norwich v Bayern Munich (03.11.1993) and some of Wales v Romania (17.11.1993).

* * *

* * *
(Screenshots from TJS Sports/BarclayBoy59ers, and Paulo Bastos/viowardog)

(Without having access to a full video, it's safe to assume the BBC didn't put any scorebar on the game in San Marino that night. If they had done such a thing, AND cut off the coverage while England failed to qualify for the World Cup, the mock outrage would have actually melted down Fleet Street.)

But a week later, their first scorebar – on Norwich v Inter Milan in the Uefa Cup.

Norwich v Inter, 24.11.1993 / second leg 08.12.1993
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*

And it's a fine look. It fitted in well with the existing BBC Sport graphics, the yellow text a reassuring reminder of 1970s sitcom end credits, and it included the BBC logo right from the start, without chopping and changing. If only Martin Lambie-Nairn hadn't pointed out that the italics didn't quite align with the old BBC logo. Even after the Lambie-Nairn cull of the italics, this was the BBC's basic layout for football for the rest of the decade.

Scotland v England, 13.11.1999
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(Screenshots from Miguel Rios and sp1873)
Last edited by sbahnhof 7 on 13 November 2016 6:27am - 2 times in total
1
Steve Williams gave kudos
sbahnhof 7182 posts since 29 Oct 2016
CHANNEL 4

Ah, Football Italia was great. No scorebar though.

Inter v AC Milan, 07.11.1993



Live clips from C4 games are quite scarce online. (DS has some Football Italia game lists here and here.)

Does anyone remember what the first C4 score graphic was like? The OSG in 1995 included a quirky colour "4" logo, but no clock apparently.

Inter v Vicenza, 27.08.1995 (warning, loud)
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(Screenshot from Footballondvd)
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Steve Williams gave kudos
Markymark5,335 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
When did TV channels start to screen a continuous reminder of the score on live sport – and how did it evolve? That's the subject of this thread.



I find it odd MOTD don't retain the clock when showing highlights, yes it would keep jumping forward of course, but it would aid understanding the chronology of the goals and major incidents?
harshy5,596 posts since 24 Mar 2001
I remember the 1994 sky sports scorebar, only because it was the first time I saw one and secondly the sky live logo hid the smaller Sky logo embedded in the scorebar graphic, you could only see it for a second or two during the highlights and never during the live coverage.
Hatton Cross2,668 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Central (West) Midlands Today
I think it was Alistair McGowan who once made the comment, that before the Score box, people used to come into the room, look at the game and ask whoever was watching "What's the score?"

Now, they come into the room, point to the top of the screen and go "Is that the score?"
Another Hatton Cross Comment
Parts of this post have been edited but does not affect the outcome. Portions Recorded. All Rights Reserved. (c) MMXVIII
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MetalGearRex1,461 posts since 11 May 2016
London London
But it went ahead, with graphics seemingly supplied by a Sega Mega Drive:
No way a Mega Drive could do that. Even the 32-bit video game systems didn't have anti-aliased text.

As is PlayStation 2 - which utterly lacked anti aliasing due to a bug disabling the feature on final development hardware.
'Even by our standards, that was remarkably unproductive.' - Andrew Neil
Steve Williams2,219 posts since 1 Aug 2008
And it's a fine look. It fitted in well with the existing BBC Sport graphics, the yellow text a reassuring reminder of 1970s sitcom end credits, and it included the BBC logo right from the start, without chopping and changing. If only Martin Lambie-Nairn hadn't pointed out that the italics didn't quite align with the old BBC logo. Even after the Lambie-Nairn cull of the italics, this was the BBC's basic layout for football for the rest of the decade.


Great stuff, this. There was one brief change to this style, mind - in the autumn of 1998 they had the scoreline on the right of the screen for a few matches because it clashed with the very shortlived BBC1 DOG on digital TV. When they dropped that after a few weeks, they moved it back.

– When was the last live UK football game without the score staying onscreen? (By choice, rather than an error.)
– First use in highlights/MOTD


In 2001/02, the ITV Digital season, the ITV regions had a handful of live Division One games, and I remember Granada's first match didn't have a scoreline or clock, which seemed a bit primitive. I think they got one for the second one but I'm sure there was also one where they had a scoreline but no clock. I remember hearing Football Italia on the C4 was the first highlights show with a scoreline, but The Premiership on ITV in 2001 was the first major show to use a scoreline on highlights. MOTD in 2001-04 was fairly inconsistent with whether it did or didn't (in fact that period probably had more changes in BBC Sport graphics than ever, they changed them quite frequently), but MOTD had one when they returned full time in 2004.

I find it odd MOTD don't retain the clock when showing highlights, yes it would keep jumping forward of course, but it would aid understanding the chronology of the goals and major incidents?


Not really, I think what we have now where they quickly flash up the time is a better compromise. It's supposed to look like a seamless package, rather than just jumping about between bits, and it certainly makes no difference as to seeing what the exact time is. If you're watching in the ground you don't see it, either, so it's hardly that essential.

You'll note all the other broadcasters also obscure the clocks if they're showing highlights of matches where the scoreline is burnt into the picture, like the Europa League and World Cup qualifiers.
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