Harken Derm

What is Going On with America’s Cup Coverage?

Published on June 14th, 2016

DEAR CURMUDGEON: I am a sailor and live in Southwest Florida. There has been essentially no media coverage available locally of the America’s Cup races in New York or Chicago. The network TV stations have had zero coverage; not even reporting in the brief sports news. The local newspapers as well as the Wall Street Journal have had zero coverage. I found that I could go on the AC website and for $7.99 I could get streaming video, but of what I am not sure.

Can you explain the media blackout? Has the AC Event Authority priced themselves out of the market? The only news I have been able to receive has been on Scuttlebutt. I perceive that the races have very low interest to the general public. I would think the foiling catamarans would be much more interesting to watch than the 12 Meter boats, but alas, we folks who are not on the race waterfront don’t have a chance. I loved the television coverage of the San Francisco races. Will that be available when they get to Bermuda? Would appreciate your thoughts and/or comments. – FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA

DEAR FRUSTRATED: To be clear, the AC World Series events in NYC and Chicago, and for that matter all the others, are not the America’s Cup. These are short, exhibition-style events, and while they do have an impact on challenger selection, their media relevance is largely limited to sailing and local outlets.

However, the ACWS is being shown in the U.S. on NBC’s sports cable channel, NBCSN. They have paid for the rights, as have many other networks around the world, which is why the free access we had previously enjoyed on YouTube has been eliminated. Also, as you discovered, you can gain live access to ACWS events on the free AC app for $7.99 per event.

As I was in attendance in Chicago, I can say there was significant spectator interest in the event. However, I give a lot of credit to the venue. When you’re in a crazy sports town, have good weather after a long winter, and ask people to come down to tourist-friendly Navy Pier, which is essentially a 1000m long bar and entertainment zone, you’re going to get footfall.

Broader media interest should occur once the six teams begin racing their America’s Cup Class (ACC) yachts next year in Bermuda. The Challenger Qualifiers will be between May 26 and June 12 with the America’s Cup Match to be between June 17 and 27. Having painstakingly followed all the event changes (and changes to changes), my advice for now is to remain patient, keep your ice cold, and your beverage full. The real show has yet to begin. – THE CURMUDGEON

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