Ishares Cup on ‘Real TV’ While Sail.TV asks Fans for Footage.


Yesterday we covered the relaunch of Boatson.tv and scratched the surface of the complex business models and issues relating to delivery of a niche sport via broadband. Today, two stories about differing approaches to sailing on TV. Hot on the heels of the Boatson.tv news comes an announcement by Sail.tv that they have updated their offer including the ability for amateur film-makers to upload their content. This ‘User Generated Content’ (UGC) is what has driven sites like Youtube – allowing unknown talent to be showcased where it otherwise might not get an audience.

Meanwhile, one of the most savvy commercial rights holders OC Group, have announced the television schedule for the iShares Cup. Supported by Sunset & Vine, OC have gone for a more traditional distribution strategy of selling content to more traditonal (albeit satelite and cable) networks.

Sail TV’s objective is:

to be the worlds leading aggregator for all video content that involves the sport of sailing… In the first instance Sail TV wants to encourage event organisers to post content onto the site where a new, “User Videos” section has been added… The upload function will be available to all Sail TV viewers by the end of the June.

A quick look at the site today reveals some features that in our opinion make the offer more compelling than Boatson.tv; the content is fresher – with yesterday’s Korea Match Cup footage available to watch, but Sail.tv’s biggest differentiator is an on-demand feature which means you can watch a particular film without being dictated what you have to watch at any given time.

Sail.tv also allows for their ‘player’ to be embedded into other websites – decreasing the opportunity to sell site specific ads, but increasing the opportunities for viewers.

The online sailing video portals provide an invaluable service to the sailing fan-base providing high definition footage of some of the most obscure races that would otherwise never get an audience. Like many internet based businesses that are dependent on advertising revenue, the business models are still to be tested.

There are only a handful of sailing properties that have the entertainment value, commercial smarts and production values of the iShares Cup. Even with the experience of OC Group and Sunset & Vine, the spectator friendly series will only be available to viewers in the UK with Sky Sports (2, 3 & Extra). Viewers in the US will have to get hold of Sun Sport Florida to watch.

Despite Mark Turner’s views on impression based valuations, OC issued a statement yesterday saying:

Last year the iShares Cup TV series was broadcast by 16 international TV networks across 119 territories reaching an audience of 199.9 million homes per programme, equating to 40 hours of programming each month. This year, with the 2009 iShares Cup just underway, 24 international networks across 130 countries have already confirmed they will broadcast the 6-part TV series.

These numbers are becoming increasingly irrelevant. The 199.9 million homes number is seen by sponsors as meaningless. Just because 199.9 million homes have a subscription to the channel does not mean that 200 million people are watching. The closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics only managed 252 million viewers. In contrast, 2500 youtube views are real – people who not only watched the content in its entirety but made an active decision to seek it out.

It’s a very complicated subject, one that we will revisit in coming months. Meanwhile as fans, enjoy the sailing, wherever you watch it.