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Middlesbrough firm flies Teesside flag at export awards

Middlesbrough based media company X-Cel Broadcast will be flying the Teesside flag at the 2019 Northern Powerhouse Export Awards.

The business that specialises in live broadcast and media sport production has been shortlisted for ‘Most Entrepreneurial Exporter of the Year’ in the prestigious annual business awards that cover the northern region from Stoke across to Grimsby and up to the Scottish borders.

Split across nine export categories, the February awards are heavily dominated by organisations from the North West and South & West Yorkshire regions which make up three quarters of 49 awards finalists, the city of Leeds alone having 13 businesses represented.

XCel exports over 90% of its media services to a glitzy list of clients including several of the world’s largest TV networks such as, US sports TV behemoth ESPN, Fox TV, Eurosport TV as well as motor racing specialists SRO Motorsports and sees the Middlesborough-based business install live TV and digital media facilities across Asian Formula 1 motor racing meccas such as Suzuka, Sepang and Shanghai.

XCel managing director, Dave Roberts, said: “The pride attached to this recognition is enormous. There are hugely impressive exporting businesses from Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool selected for these awards and to think a Teesside business can be identified as an equal is testament to our region’s creativity and ingenuity.”

In 2018 XCel was on-site for its foreign clients to see Italian Francesco Molinari win golf’s Open Championship, bring home to ESPN viewers the disappointment of Team USA being sent packing from Paris at the Ryder Cup, as well as build full outside broadcast facilities at the Asian-based Formula 1 tracks at Sepang, Suzuka, Fuji and Shanghai, where its live motor racing broadcasts were transmitted across Asia, Europe and North America.

After losing out on the contract to supply outside broadcast facilities for SRO Motorsports in the 2017 inaugural season of the Blancpain GT Series Asia due to not being financially competitive, XCel had to rework its entire export strategy. This included undertaking a study of the Asian marketplace, the client’s specific needs and then designing a flexible and bespoke solution that provided the necessary services at a price that worked.

Dave added: “We hugely value the relationships we have with our partners around the world and worked incredibly hard for over a year to secure the Asia motor racing contract. This meant having to significantly change the way we do business in that part of the world, a new approach we have now adopted for all regions and the award recognition makes it all worth it.”

The Teesside operator will continue to export into the new year as it sends cameramen to the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi in March as well as undertake its second year of the Asia motor racing contract, while it is currently negotiating a two-year extension with SRO Motorsports of Hong Kong. 

Mike Scott, head of television for SRO Motorsports Group said: “XCel has carried out a great job producing Blancpain GT Series Asia and we are looking forward to working together again on the 2019 season from April. 

"They promised to be nimble and flexible in order to go beyond the minimum of our requirements and they certainly did that, offering additional support in our sponsor commitments and adding significant digital distribution of our race broadcasts throughout mainland China. They were without doubt entrepreneurial in their approach.”

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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