Live spectating is out. Broadcast spectating is in.

Published on November 25th, 2014

Among the lessons from the 34th America’s Cup was in how live spectating could not be fully achieved. Despite the seemingly ideal stadium venue, the course in San Francisco Bay was too big for the racing to be watched from one location, with broadcast screens needed to capture a complete race.

Additionally, efforts to monetize live spectating seemed more work than it was worth. Land had to be secured for villages to be created. Ticket prices were initially optimistic, soon plummeting as demand failed to arrive. Cancelled races meant rainchecks.

A lot of effort indeed.

So with the 35th America’s Cup headed to Bermuda, Matthew Sheahan of Yachting World questions how an event designed around spectating can be now headed to a small, expensive and exclusive island where there are said to be 17 hotels and less than 2,000 beds.

Clearly, live spectating is out. Broadcast spectating is in.

Having developed the broadcast tools during for the 2013 Match, this will be the key component for the America’s Cup in 2017.

Sir Keith Mills, a board member for the British challenger, notes the importance of television for sports.

“The reality is for all sport be it soccer or Formula 1, vast numbers of people consume those sports on television. A very small number actually see it live. Sailing is no different. I think it would be great if we had hundreds of thousands of spectators, but it’s not absolutely essential, provided that the television coverage and the sport is fantastic then it will be consumed by tens, if not hundreds of millions of spectators around the world. That’s the way sport gets consumed these days.”

British skipper Ben Ainslie, who has competed in Bermuda during the World Match Racing Tour, sees the broadcast benefits that the venue holds.

“I think the focus is really on the TV and television broadcast times (in Bermuda) are good. Visually, Great Sound would be amazing with great water colours and conditions along with everything else, so I think that’s the focus.”

With the formal venue announcement scheduled on December 2, but with Bermuda all but anointed, the real news may be of additional event details revealed. With all momentum lost since Oracle Team USA’s successful defense 14 months ago, it will be good to see the ball moving again… somewhere.


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