Why is kiteboarding not on TV ?

December, 2014   //   by Chase Hasch   

Someone asked me recently “Why is kiteboarding not on TV”?

Kiteboarding is a Healthy sport, has good looking athletes and tropical locations. That sounds like any marketing departments dream come true. Regardless if you are selling Toothpaste, Beer or Cars!

So why isn’t it on TV? Well I am glad you asked…

It would be quick and easy to dismiss broadcast satellite or cable TV as an outdated media knowing very well that the new generation of consumer wants to watch things on their phones and tablets whenever and wherever they want.

tv-screen7

While this is true to some degree I must ask – then why is it that “any” sporting event shown “live” on TV still gets at least 10x to 20x times more viewers then the web stream? Not to mention the social aspect of multiple people watching the event together on one big screen.

Devices such as Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast do allow us to share a webstream on a TV, but given the choice the consumer will tune in to the TV broadcast. Which generally also has the better picture quality.

Long story short – For the sake of this post we must admit that TV is still king and TV is here to stay.

Why even care about TV ?

The short answer is – to give exposure and return of investment to the sponsors.

Any company that puts money into an event (therefore becoming an event sponsor) is looking for a return of investment. If nobody sees it – the sponsor is wasting their money and will likely not continue supporting the event in the future. More sponsor money (generally) means better and bigger events which in turn is attracting better riders, more media and if the venue and location allows it also more spectators.

Reality check – Kiteboarding is niche sport

Like it or not kiting is a niche sport – and a very small one indeed. It is trendy and does get used for a good amount of promotional purposes, but when it comes to competitive kiteboarding it has a rather small following.

Another very interesting observation me and my family made is that many casual weekend kiters actually don’t care about professional and competitive kiting. Go to your local beach and ask who the current world champion is. (Hear the Crickets chirping…)

Now go to your local soccer club or tennis club and ask the casual weekend tennis or soccer player the same question. Amazing how many casual tennis or soccer players watch and follow their sport on a pro level. Even more crazy is the amount of people that watch car racing or football, but actually do not race or play football themselves.

I am not sure what it is but for some reason there seems to be a disconnect between pro sports and casual weekend warrior – that simply does not exist with other sports.

So why is kiting not on TV?

Fact: A TV station must schedule programming well in advance in order to sell and fill advertisement slots.

Generally there are two types of sports broadcasts on TV. The most popular one is “live” broadcasts. People love to witness things as they happen – compared to tape delay. Must be human nature that we want to be there when things happen (even though remotely and in front of a screen).

Scheduling a live broadcast for a kiteboarding would proof rather difficult. The TV station would want the event finals to last exactly 1 hour on Saturday between 3:30pm and 4:30pm. Good luck telling mother nature to produce wind, waves and sunshine at that exact time… Not going to happen. And any TV station will not take the risk of having to change their programming schedule only cause there is no wind.

Alternative – a monthly highlights show?

A viable and very realistic option would be to produce a monthly 30 or 45 minute highlights program. Even if an event got cancelled the producers (PKRA, KSP or whoever) could have a backup episode already filmed (such as rider profile, highlights from last years etc) that could be aired instead.

Programming and Production Quality and Consistency

By now anyone passionate about kiting or anyone involved in the pro level sport will bring up the mother of all excuses – we don’t have the money to do it.

Great – I think I heard that one before.

Here are a few examples that might be interesting to study and maybe take a look what was done right and what could be learned.

Example PBA (today PWA) Windsurfing Tour

Windsurfing is probably the closest comparable sport to kiteboarding when it comes to being at the mercy of wind and waves to produce an event that is interesting to watch for a TV audience.

The sport of windsurfing has seen a decline in recent years, in large part due to the emergence of kiteboarding, but it is interesting to note that the PBA (today called PWA) produced a monthly 30 minute highlight package that was aired on Eurosport for many years from the mid 1990’s until the early 2000’s.

What is even more impressive that this was during a time where there weren’t as many stations and windsurfing was already starting to slowly decline from its big days in the early 80’s.

Example WRC Rally

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) – which albeit bigger than kiting is still considered a niche sport and is very challenging to film due to the fact that it is not circle track but a long end to end road requiring a multitude of cameras and one or more helicopters.

All in all very expensive considering the very small audience!

Several years back the WRC put the event organizer in charge of producing a highlight reel. As expected the production quality was all over the place and no TV broadcast partner could be found.

In recent years the WRC has taken over the video production again which resulted in a better quality, consistent events, new TV deals – which in turn has attracted a major manufacture with VW (Volkswagen) to commit to a manufacture supported works team entry.

Example ASP Surf

Another example is the ASP Surf Tour. It wasn’t an overnight success and it wasn’t that the tour always had $500.000 events and a dedicated broadcast team. The first events comprised of a folding table and $1000 in cash. The rest as they say is history. Again I am not suggestion million dollar events. I am just suggesting to take a look at the beginning years and what right decisions have been made that could be applied to kiteboarding.

Still crying foul and saying you can’t compare it?

Well it all needs to start somewhere. We can continue to make excuses or we can accept the challenge and find creative solutions. Every prosumer camera produces broadcast quality footage these days.

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Related Post: How to afford the PKRA Tour?

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