It’s less than 48 hours since the end of the last race of the 33rd America’s Cup, yet organisers have already managed to collate some figures relating to the event. Given the turnaround and the nature of the America’s Cup, these numbers are not from an independent source and there is a question mark over whether third party analysis will be done. Given that the organisers of the event are not the rights holders for the next version of the Cup, there seems little incentive to spend money on auditing the media effect.
Even with the unconventional nature of America’s Cup 33, the event does attract more mainstream media, particularly news media, than most other sailing events. The story of an American entrepreneur spending big to return the Cup to the USA is one that plays well to a wide audience and with any luck, will provide a good base for the buildup to America’s Cup 34.
The Spanish company that had to put the event together at short notice did a good job considering that there was very little time to prepare and unfavourable timings. The media side of the event was innovative with large emphasis place on the use of the web, but delays and uncertainty relating to event timings will have impacted the final results significantly.
Only 39 TV channels acquired the broadcasting rights for the America’s Cup. Most of these were cable or pay networks. Organisers say that the list of broadcasters included Sky (Great Britain), Canal + (France), Teledeporte and Canal 9 (Spain), Eurosport (Europe), Show Time (the Middle East), ESPN (the USA) FOX Live (Australia), TVNZ and Sky (New Zealand).
15 hours of live broadcasting to 216 territories has been estimated. Much of this would have been dead air as the event and the fans waited for courses to be set and weather to be right. Race one lasted about 3 hours. Race two lasted about 2 hours. There were a few hours more of press conferences, but the rest would have been pretty dull television. Many broadcasters, like Eurosport had to reschedule events to cover the lack of content coming from the live feed. In addition to the racing, 27 hours of special programs are estimated to have been produced.
Perhaps mindful of the relatively poor TV numbers, organisers use the household penetration number to suggest a 2,160 million potential viewing audience. To illustrate just how unhelpful that number is, consider that according to worlwide internet usage numbers, YachtSponsorship.com has a potential viewing audience of 6,767 Million.
Despite being launched only days before the event, the official website of the 33rd America’s Cup offered fans the chance to watch live video of the racing via an official stream. The numbers for this part of the event then are more tangible. Organisers report 2,800,000 visits by 1,200,000 unique visitors.
The live feed was watched by 656,000 unique visitors via the official site. The feed was a sore point amongst many fans, often struggling to keep up with the demand. We did not manage to get the high-res version to work at all, even after giving away email details to download the proprietary player. Luckily, the feed was distributed through 350 other websites, some of whom buffered the stream, causing a slight delay but delivering a significantly better viewer experience.
We will wait to see what the BMW ORACLE numbers are, if they release them, as the American team’s coverage was far superior in terms of content, organisation and technology.
The official social media numbers were 16,000 Facebook fans and 13,000 followers on Twitter in the three official languages of all the communication of the Web (Spanish, English and French)
PUBLIC AT THE MARINA REAL JUAN CARLOS (from the 7th to the 14th of February)
Despite the cold winter weather, a cumulative 201,000 visits were made between the 7th the 14th of February. The biggest single day was the 7th of February 2007, when an estimated 60,000 people attended the event inauguration. More than 2,000 children of Valencian schools attended the race village through organised visits.
LOCAL ACTIVATION AND PROMOTION
In addition to the electronic stuff, there was local marketing of the event which included; 2,000 sq m of canvases, 500 banners, 180 bus stop advertising panels, 1,000 1 minute adverts of the 33rd America’s Cup in the trains of the Mediterranean corridor area, Continuous advertising of 35 seconds in 345 buses of Valencia, 10,000 official programs distributed and a presence in airports of Madrid and Barcelona.
It remains to be seen if there was a return on investment for the sponsors of the event. No doubt that BMW and ORACLE have received fantastic returns and there may be a residual value to the city of Valencia, but even with the limited build up, there were many missed opportunities because winning the race was the primary objective and putting on a show came a long way down the priority list.