Needing to Grow the TV Audience

It was a proud moment for America’s Cup organizers when they announced that, for the first time since 1992, the races would be on network TV in America. NBC would broadcast the first two races of the 34th Match. Not everyone gets on network television, they said.

And while the majority of the races for the Match and the Challenger series would get shuffled off to NBC’s cable channel NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), it was still an achievement that organizers hoped would help connect the event to a larger audience.

The broadcast technology developed during the AC World Series had convinced the network that this America’s Cup would deliver a product worth watching. So NBC opened the door and sold the event organizers the air time… an expense the event hopes to recover by selling commercial space.

While it is still early, the audience has not yet arrived. After being spoilt by live YouTube shows, the first two NBCSN broadcasts (on Friday and Saturday, Aug 9 and 10) were tape delayed.

The challenger races last weekend averaged 53k on Friday and 83k on Saturday. The 2007 races in Valencia typically averaged 250k-300k viewers per broadcast show. NBCSN’s top program on Saturday was the World Series of Fighting at 264k.

While all the challenger races will be tape-delayed on NBCSN, it appears that the America’s Cup races will be shown live. Hopefully that will grow the audience.

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