As category partners of the Sport Industry Group Cutting Edge Sport award, PT SportSuite CEO Rich Cheary celebrates those companies who embraced innovation to make the shortlist – this week … Extreme E.
If there’s one thing COVID-19 has forced upon us, it is to re-examine the relationship between sport and its fans and the way in which fans consume sport.
As I write this, sporting codes around the world are gearing up for the prospect of resuming competition in front of empty stadiums, racetracks, arenas and more. While there’s no doubt that the fans will always be an important part of live sport, sporting organisations are now needing to look at new models and ways for sport to be consumed as a media package, as a way of futureproofing their businesses.
For some, this means finding new ways to bring live sport to the fans. For instance, with only a relatively small number of live matches broadcast via terrestrial television, many sporting organisations are now looking to video OTT solutions to broadcast matches direct to web and native app platforms.
But the very nature of the sporting product needs to evolve too if sports are to survive and attract a younger, post-COVID, digitally-savvy generation, for whom sport is as much about the media product as it is about the live sporting experience.
Sport is as much about the media product as it is about the live sporting experience
Extreme E – a new motorsport series set to kick off in 2021 – is a new racing venture that takes the idea of sport as a media product into the future. The series will feature teams of men and women, who will race electric SUVs in remote locations around the world that have been damaged by climate issues, as a way of highlighting the impact of climate change and promoting green issues.
As a sporting spectacle, Extreme E is notable in that it represents a re-imagining of the potential relationship between a sport and its fans. Extreme E’s vision to “create Dakar meets Blue Planet” would not be possible if they hadn’t taken the decision to see the series played out in front of cameras, rather than a live spectacle. No live fans? No problem …
Speaking at a Sport Industry Spotlight Session, Extreme E’s chief marketing officer Ali Russell said: “We decided we were going to make the best media product ever. What you’ve always got in sport is that challenge between letting the fans get as close to the action as the cameras and there’s always a trade-off between what happens in the stadium for the fans and what happens at home for the fan watching on TV.
“We decided we were going to make the best media product ever” – Ali Russell, Extreme E chief marketing officer
“What we’ve been able to do with Extreme E is really concentrate on the media product – we have VR, AR, drones that are getting incredibly close to the cars. We’re doing things normal sports properties can’t do because of fan safety.”
Russell continues: “You can get into thinking that you’re competing against sport in your bubble, but actually we’re competing against entertainment. The consumer demographics are changing.
“You just have to stay abreast because if you don’t reinvent and you don’t evolve you will die. There are sports that are dwindling in popularity and those that can evolve and attract a new younger audience will be the ones that thrive in the longer term.”
Congratulations to Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag, Russell and the rest of the team for innovating and pushing the industry forward.
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