America’s Cup Web Policy More MLB than F1 2


The protocol governing the 34th America’s Cup contains a few rules that seem to go against the stated goals of developing America’s Cup teams into commercially viable and sustainable businesses. While the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) uses Formula 1 as it’s model when it comes to PR, the mechanism it has settled upon to control the dissemination of information via the internet seems to have more in common with the big American sports like MLB, NBA and NFL. Now, arguably the only commercially based team, Emirates Team New Zealand, is seeking mediation in relation to rules that govern the team’s web communications.

The paragraph in question says:

51.1. By 1 July 2011, Competitors shall use the domain www.americascup.com as their sole online presence. By 1 June 2011, the Event Authority will provide Competitors with as much space as they reasonably require within the website for exclusive use and control of all their content. Furthermore, by 1 July 2011, Competitors that have existing domain names shall redirect all online traffic to www.americascup.com.

For the purposes of this Article 51.1 “online presence” means an internet website, but does not include social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and such other social media as may be advised by the Event Authority from time to time. Refer amendment 8

The intent of this Article is to substantially grow the online audience for the benefit of the Competitors and the Event.

51.2. Article 51.1 does not apply to content that is not linked in any way to the America’s Cup in relation to other (permitted non America’s Cup) events.

The concept of centralising the web presence of America’s Cup teams has some merit. The official site of the New York Yankees, yankees.com redirects to http://mlb.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=NYY. Interestingly, if you look closely at the MLB site, you will notice that it is ‘powered by ORACLE’, which might give a hint as to where the idea came from, but there are some big differences between MLB teams and America’s Cup teams.

Emirates Team New Zealand, and to a lesser degree ORACLE Racing and Artemis Racing are more like Penske Racing than the Yankees. Penske competes in two types of NASCAR series and the Indy Car championship, with occasional forays into the American Le Mans Series too. Expecting a team like Penske Racing to redirect its website to nascar.com for example doesn’t make a lot of sense for its sponsors or its fans.

Similarly, you can’t really imagine UEFA mandating that Manchester United or Real Madrid redirect their URLS to UEFA.com

While Oracle Racing and Artemis Racing have little or no business model, Emirates Team New Zealand rely upon sponsorship to fund their campaign(s). Team managing director Grant Dalton says that one effect of the internet rules is to stifle the ability of commercially funded teams to raise sponsorship, and that affects all commercial teams. He said:

“I would have thought an ACEA objective should be to help teams secure sponsorship, not hinder them. For example we are an established team which has been in continuous operation since the 1987 America’s Cup challenge at Perth. We have a campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race and we are competing in the Extreme Sailing Series. We need to be able to project ourselves to the public as we see fit, not controlled from within someone else’s web site.”

Similarly, Dalton know what anyone who has ever worked in sports marketing knows :

“People follow teams, not events…. people are not fans of the Rugby World Cup… they support the teams within the Rugby World Cup.”

Taken to its extreme, the policy adopted by the ACEA should force individual athletes to forward their URLS to the America’s Cup site too. Why not redirect http://www.russellcoutts.com and http://www.cayardsailing.com/ to the official site too…

If the America’s Cup really wants to be the F1 of sailing, then its should behave like F1. Create a great series site that has top level, useful, relevant information about events, results and series news. Centralise the live timing and scoring, provide some decent event information for fans and allow teams to build their brands on their own sites.

More America’s Cup news.

  • Isailmedia

    This article is factually incorrect . As media for Team Australia This Question was brought up and where told we could keep current sites up as well as have a hosted site on Americas Cup Site .

    In linking to a prominent event like the Americas cup ,can only help a team with sponsorship .
    Team’s also have input directly to Americas cup sites hosted they control the content not Americas Cup media , This is a tool they have provided .

    Most teams still have there original sites up. Some choose to not keep them up . 
    Some didn’t even have sites .

    Also if you ever follow Team NZL its home site Not very well maintained as far as updates or for that matter, Sponsorship related information .

    In this age of twitter and facebook The the home website is slowly being fazed out ,
    You can reach more fans and sponsors using this medium than anywhere, 

     I would get a quote from Americas cup media before printing something like this you’ll see im correct right ,

  • Perhaps we are wrong, though the protocol exists in black and white. Perhaps the ACEA haven’t got around to amending the protocol that governs this area, or perhaps the protocol doesn’t matter and a nod and a wink from the organisers is enough to allow teams not to follow the directives in this part of the rules. 

    If this is the case, and we are incorrect, then Emirates Team NZ would not need to bring an official protest in the manner in which they are doing. 

    While we are big fans of Facebook and Twitter, it is a very short-term mentality to put all your online presence in these mechanisms. Imagine if your entire web presence had been hosted on MySpace? Keeping your own site is incredibly important, which is why the ACEA want to concentrate all the traffic to theirs.