New Sporting Events in the New World
In recent years, new events have emerged and been incredibly successful. New formats for existing sports have emerged, such as Twenty20 Cricket and GolfSixes (a fun attempt by the European Tour to attract a new audience). New technologies such as Formula E and the Drone Racing League have led to new opportunities for events (not to mention eSports), whilst mass participation events, such as Tough Mudder and the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay have capitalised on the trend for health and wellbeing. These events are joined by more recent entrants such as Virgin Sport.
These new types of hugely popular events have been driven by a number of factors such as technology, social media and new channels through which to enjoy sport, but one of the most prominent is the sociological changes that have seen society become more cash rich but time poor. At the same time, impatient consumers, especially the younger generations, value experiences more than material items, although they want those experiences to be instantaneous and quickly absorbed.
I’ve sat on the side-lines, looking on jealously as organisers design their events from a completely blank canvas, answering the most fundamental questions: What shall we call it? How many participants should we include, and how do we choose them? How long should we play? What days should we play on? What is the prize?
I’ve also been privileged to help in the birth of new events and I can offer some reflections on what I’ve seen work best:
• Have a great idea and a vision. As any entrepreneur will know, a new event needs a great idea, with a gap in the market and a USP. Make the event and its format relevant to society’s needs.
• Have a great brand. A brand is your face to the world, and needs to be trusted, inspiring, and have longevity. Make people believe in your event.
• Focus on the experience. Without spectators, an event is nothing. The spectator experience is crucial in creating new fans, and that means more today than ever before. Make it fun for participants, kids, grandma and even the dog; involvement and engagement is the future.
• Harness social media and new broadcast technologies. The way the world views an event has changed, and will continue to do so from marketing to broadcast. Consider Twitter and Amazon’s tie-ups for live-streaming in NFL. Provide opportunities for global spectators to participate in the event socially; take for example Formula E’s FanBoost, or the opportunity for spectators around the world to be part of the event on the Twitterwalls at the Rugby World Cup.
• Be the best you can, and seek out the experts. Basketball Champions League started with a belief that they will launch a world-class event, and sought out industry experts to help them – from design through to rights sales. Most importantly, choose someone who cares like you do.
Alastair Bewick is CEO of CSM Live