Little Dot Studios co-founder Andy Taylor on his teenage years as a snooker prodigy, taking on Google at the beautiful game and the power of 5G.
What is your sporting passion?
Oldham Athletic. My dad took me to my first game in 1974 and I didn’t miss a home game until I got a Saturday job at Morrisons in 1986. I was a ball boy and mascot and, sadly, still can’t relax at 3pm on a Saturday. There’s been a very occasional high but mostly prolonged, painful lows. I wouldn’t change a thing though.
How did you first get into sport?
I was fortunate to grow up in Rochdale where sports clubs were part of the community. Cricket, football, tennis, golf and squash were all part of day to day life and I played them all. Everyone played sport in the street and at local clubs. And in the 1970s, all sports were shown on terrestrial television so I’d watch every ball of a Test match, every shot of the World Snooker from The Crucible and even check out the basketball and kabaddi on Channel 4. Everyone had access to sport on TV and it fuelled participation.
Do you also participate in sport?
I’ve always played sport. By the age of 14, I was playing county squash and county cricket. I’d have a go at any sport and actually played in the British Snooker Under-19 Masters at the age of 15. I was so small, I almost needed a ladder to reach the table. I now like to cycle and manage three or four rounds of golf a year.
What is your most cherished sporting memory?
For a fleeting moment I thought my most cherished sporting moment was Oldham founding the Premier League or playing in the Littlewoods Cup Final. I then remembered Little Dot Studios’ inaugural football match, against Google. We managed to find 11 employees interested enough to play and had lads playing in Converse, beanie hats and knitted jumpers. Google had training tops and 90 per cent possession. We drew 3-3. A young, shy editor who’d only worked at Little Dot for two weeks scored three volleys from outside the box and he was immediately handed a full-time contract. We haven’t played a game since and we won’t. We’re as good as Google.
What is your greatest hope in sport?
That it fully embraces the possibilities of 5G, which will allow instantaneous consumption of video on any device. For sport, it’s a chance not just to grow new commercial revenues but to reach those younger audiences who will never pay for a Sky subscription. I acknowledge that live games are always likely to be behind a paywall but, with intelligent licensing of rights and additional content and video streams, there should be an abundance of live and catch-up content for everyone. Rights-holders will be able to have their pay TV revenue and stay relevant to younger audiences by capturing their attention on social platforms.
If you could change one thing about sport, what would it be?
A significant increase in funding and participation for sport in state schools and the more deprived parts of the UK. Not only do we want the best talent rising to the top whatever their background, everyone should have the opportunity to participate in as many sports as possible and enjoy the benefits and friendships that come with it.
Andy Taylor is co-founder and chief executive of Little Dot, a digital content studio and broadcaster whose clients have included the England and Wales Cricket Board and Formula E.