Apart from the America’s Cup and some regional exceptions, sailing has somehow never made it onto network television. It used to be a problem, but now, with the proliferation of digital video and high bandwidth, sailing fans can follow their favourite sport online.
In the old business model, broadcasters either paid for high quality content or hoped that enough people would tune in to make advertising appealing to sponsors. Social media and sharing technologies have turned those models on their head. The power now lies with the film-makers and the rights holders. With the ability for website editors to embed video from several sources, the only place to insert ads that can’t be bypassed is into the footage itself or via sponsorship of properties in shot.
As I write this, I am looking at a plugin that allows me to insert video from 11 video sharing sites. The content is fresh and high-definition and it makes creating a business out of online video an interesting challenge.
One company that is trying to make it work is Boatson.tv – newly launched as a ‘free to use’ channel. Launching with five dedicated channels, SAIL, POWER, VOLVO OCEAN RACE, FOCUS and WORLD ON WATER® they also promote high quality, full screen, free to use sailing and powerboat action on demand and available via a computer wherever broadband is available.
SAIL is billed as featuring coverage of some of the top flight events on the international yachting calendar e.g. the iShares Cup, World Match Race Tour, ISAF World Cup, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds, the Oman Sail Around the World event and much more.
CEO, Geoff Waller says that they are looking forward to increasing the number of hours watched using a number of promotions and adding content to the new portal.
The site is going to have to work really hard. We tuned into the SAIL channel and got an old World Match Racing Tour promo and footage from an undated Swedish Match Cup sometime in the past. Compare that to World Match Racing Tour competitor Mirsky Racing’s website which features video from yesterday’s racing in Korea.
Having more sailing content available can only be a good thing. Sites like Boatson.tv should be congratulated for providing yacht racing fans with material that they can’t find elsewhere. For their business model to work though, they will probably need exclusive content.
The only way to make sites like this a destination for fans is to give them something that they can’t get anywhere else. This will require the industry to make some hard choices – do you give the content away to promote the series to the widest possible audience, or do you try to command rights fees from specialist broadcasters?
Check out the new platform at www.boatson.tv