There are those who say that we shall never displace the 'stadium' sports'
grip on major TV channels. And they're right. But they imply that we should
therefore not overly concern ourselves with the medium and focus
exclusively on the internet, instead . This is a big mistake.
Because that is what sponsors want.
Here's what James Spithill had to say at the 'World Yacht Racing Forum' currently underway in Estoril, Portugal...
“To succeed, our sport needs three elements: continuity, sustainability and a wider audience. This is the only way to provide a return on investment to the sports partners... the Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup managements agree on the fact that media coverage and television are paramount. A very polished TV package will capture the audience. Look at Nascar or the Tour de France. Those two events are very repetitive and have few exciting moments; yet they get a massive audience thanks to the quality of the TV production, the commentary and the technology involved.”
Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad went on to say this...
“Football is an ongoing business; Formula 1 is an ongoing business; sailing isn’t. There shouldn’t be new events: we should consolidate what we have and improve, not diversify.”
Olympic sailing is in a transition phase where some athletes are fully funded and others have to fight for every penny they can get to stay on the circuit. They both have the same professional attitude, they both dedicate a great deal of time and money to prepare, yet they both struggle to find commercial sponsors because proving there is a clear return on investment is hard.
Right now Olympic sailing athletes are paying to compete at high level. They do not get appearance money or prize money for racing. They have to raise their funding in other ways and pay for the privilige.
The object must be to transition as fast as possible to a situation Olympic sailing is a career choice for more than just the elite few.
This transition will be greatly assisted by TV coverage.
Then the space on the sail as defined under the ISAF Advertising Code will have some value which athletes can leverage to find funding.
The key to open this door is in the hands of ISAF. They own the media rights. The way to boost their value is for the ISAF to develop a media strategy and prime the pump by investing some of their Olympic revenue in implementing it. They cannot continue to leave this vital task of promoting Olympic sailing and getting it on TV to others.