Crufts will be reinvented as a major sporting event, with technical innovations imported from the Olympics, when the world’s largest dog show returns on Channel 4.
The broadcaster is extending its coverage of next month’s canine competition with 14 hours of live action and highlights screened across four days from the NEC Birmingham.
Sunset+Vine, the company which produced Channel 4’s award-winning Paralympic Games coverage in 2012 and 2016, will use mini-cameras attached to the dogs’ collars to capture pooches mid-leap.
Alan Carr joins Crufts team
As well as extra daily afternoon programming on Channel 4, with “chatty man” Alan Carr joining regular Crufts presenter Clare Balding, the entire event will be streamed live on a special Crufts YouTube channel.
Sunset+Vine, which also televises international cricket and rugby union matches, has worked with The Kennel Club to upgrade other elements such as the NEC arena lighting to emulate the atmosphere of a major sports event.
David Stranks, Sunset+Vine’s Executive Producer for Crufts, said: “Treating Crufts like a major sporting event is at the heart of how we approach the event. Emotions run as high, and the commitment of those taking part is as intense, as any elite sportsman approaching a major tournament such as the Ashes or 6 Nations (rugby international).”
Ms Stranks added: “Sunset+Vine has always felt that they deserve a similar level of respect and innovation when it comes to covering the competition.”
Digital dog’s eye cameras
The producers pioneered GoPro dog’s eye camera footage of the high-speed Flyball competition and a new split-second timing system.
The 127th Crufts will welcome more than 22,000 dogs and 140,000 visitors.
The competition has found a new global audience despite concerns raised by the RSPCA over the methods some dog owners use, such as pulling the leashes of the dog high around their neck.
The competition generates “viral” clips on social media – an excited Jack Russell which went “totally crazy” during an agility course last year generated one million Facebook views inside 24 hours.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The Crufts programmes are a must for any dog lover and we are looking forward to this year being bigger and better than ever.”
Stephen Lyle, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor, Sport, said: “Crufts is so much more than a world famous dog show. It’s a joyous four day celebration of our best friends and our relationships with them.”
“And this year, Clare Balding and the team will be there with more action, stories and dogs than ever before.”