Telum Talks To...Mike Lane, General Manager / Content Director at the Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC)

Telum Talks To...Mike Lane, General Manager / Content Director at the Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC)

What is your main audience demographic and what sports do you cover?
Main demographic would be males, aged 18-44. Over 85 percent of our audience is male in our social channels.

In live commentary, we cover cricket, rugby, rugby league as our core sports, which we complement with podcasts. We also do Netball commentary and have a Basketball podcast.

However, we touch on all the biggest global sporting events, such as FIFA World Cup, F1, NBA Finals, and usually run watch-a-long parties / functions.
Where did the idea for the Alternative Commentary Collective come from?
The idea was born out of a group of friends who LOVED cricket but weren’t necessarily engaged with the coverage of cricket. When the idea was formed, it happened to be a very low point in NZ cricket. We just got bowled out for 45 in a test against South Africa, and NZ Cricket needed to re-engage with the latent cricket fan. The first year was actually funded by NZ Cricket so we got a group of like-minded friends in broadcasting / comedy and went for it. We filmed a short video about the very first broadcast here.
What’s your history with sport and sports reporting in NZ?
Zero, although I was founder of the Beige Brigade which is a NZ sports fan group mainly focused on cricket. My background was in radio broadcasting but more on the music side, having worked for ZM and Radio Hauraki.
Do you have a favourite sporting moment you remember covering?
The World Test Championship victory over India in 2021, where we had been up commentating overnight, for six nights in a row. We were starting to hallucinate - the sleep deprivation was real! And when we won it was just a culmination of everything. I think I might have cried. But it was such a complete performance and so good to witness after six long nights.
What are the sports you enjoy covering? How do you think the market of sports broadcasting and production has changed?
Super Rugby Pacific, All Blacks, Black Caps, NZ Warriors (NRL), Silver Ferns for live commentary.
With the digital platforms now available there are just endless options to cater for new and different audiences, not just the ACC. For example, there should be a Hindi commentary team for the India cricket team tour, a fan-led commentary team, an all female commentary team, and more. 

However, having absolutely everything on digital does pose serious awareness issues for the sports. If you aren’t in front of the audience all the time, you become irrelevant. So, free-to-air is still vital to a sports success.

Has the rise of digital platforms made things easier for you?
The digital realm offers so much more opportunity but the challenge remains around access and data. Data is still too expensive for the average Kiwi and access to the digital channels is just too challenging for some people either geographically or generationally. Also, having everything behind a digital paywall narrows the exposure for sports, even the biggest sports like cricket have suffered because of this.
Do you think sports coverage needs to be changed, expanded or modified? 
Minority sports are screaming out for more exposure, but it comes down to making it economically viable.

Any tips or advice for PR pitches?
Don’t expect everything for free and think carefully about the specific channel and audience. Each needs a unique approach.

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