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 … W Series
Innovation always starts with an idea. Our idea at PT SportSuite was simple – we believed that sports organisations were no longer in the sports business, they’re in the content business, and that professional sporting organisations needed to operate like modern digital-first media houses.
Based on our belief, we developed a digital suite offering that would allow sports clubs, federations, player bodies and anyone else in the business of sport to transform digitally to meet this new reality head on.
We wanted to introduce an inclusive platform offering that would empower any sports organisation, no matter how big or small, to compete on a level digital playing field, with their creativity, content and ideas being the separator.
Which is why I find the idea behind the W Series so compelling – a women’s-only single-seater series that attempts to address the lack of opportunities for female racers in an industry dominated by men. Don’t believe me? You have to go as far back as 1976 for the last time a female racer – Italy’s Lella Lombardi – started an F1 race.
The W Series, which launched in 2019, featured 20 talented racers, driving identical Formula Three cars around some of Europe’s top circuits. Unlike F1, where the top drivers enjoy an obvious technological advantage, inaugural series winner Jamie Chadwick took on all-comers, relying on her talent and the combined efforts of the collective.
Based on a simple idea, W Series achieved unprecedented success in their first year of operation, with the series being broadcast to a global audience and achieving international media reach of almost five billion.
Speaking at a Sport Industry Spotlight session, Chadwick said: “A lot of athletes don’t like change. I was one of those people, and I was admittedly hesitant about taking part in W Series because it was an unknown, unproven entity. It was a dive into the deep end, and there was a lot of trust in people around me to make the decision. Fortunately it paid off.”
For the past year, the Publisher’s Toolbox team have taken on the mantra, “Dare to be Different”. When I look at what the W Series has achieved in such a short period of time, it only reinforces in my mind the need for sports organisations to think differently and act differently if they are to not only survive, but thrive in this shifting sporting landscape.
Sport has always been about what happens on the field, but increasingly, the digital innovation required to position your sports brand with younger generations of digital-first sports fans will require sports organisations to embrace change and their ability to position their “product” as a 360-degree media package that grows and sustains their digital community of fans.
Thank you W Series for embracing change and providing us with some cutting edge sport!
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