The America’s Cup has always been perceived as a very niche, not really made for television property due to a lot of uncertainties involved. With the 34th America’s Cup it was all about to the change.
Key senior people from the sports industry, with no relation to sailing, were given the task to re-brand and re-position the oldest trophy in sports, and at the same time build a sustainable commercial platform.
To bring the oldest trophy in sports back to life was no easy task due to the history of the Cup and all it’s political innuendo, stakeholders interest and general perception of the competition amongst the public as a television and spectator sports. America’s Cup has always been seen as a rich man, egocentric driven property only accessible to the very few. This was all about to change.
To change people’s perception is always a challenge, especially with a sport like sailing. So how does one transcend the sport and create a more engaging and attractive television property and spectator sport? The answer is simple, educate people. By introducing close-to-shore racing and a completely new way of producing sailing by investing into real time graphics, explaining in layman terms what is happening. The people behind the 34th America’s Cup have truly managed to bring the Cup back to it’s glory days and are portraying it as a sport and global event that are able to capture millions of viewers around the globe. The Cup has finally gone from the courtrooms and back to back out where it should be fought, on the water.
It is fair to say that with the newfound television product, cutting-edge technology and high-speed boats racing close-to-shore, the team has managed to establish a credible sports spectacular, made for television, which is both engaging and commercially sustainable.
As a fan of the oldest trophy in international sports, one can only hope that people are ready to embrace this new sailing revolution and understand the importance of adapting a product like the America’s Cup to the 21st century, which not only have brought the old trophy back to life but hopefully have inspired a new generation to engage more with the sport of sailing.
The 34th America’s Cup has shown us that with this new revolution they have proven to the world and old skeptics, that the America’s Cup and sailing are not only for billionaires, but also for everybody. More importantly, it has shown that the America’s Cup can be engaging, extreme, exciting, edge of the seat television spectacle and a true global event.
If people truly embrace this new format, and accept what it has done to attract people to engage with the sport, I’m certainly convinced about the future of the oldest sports trophy in international sports and can’t wait for the next Cup.
Kim Bernhard is an experienced Sports Media Rights, Business Development and Brand Executive. He has worked in the sports industry for the last 20 years with companies including: Viasat, WPP, Red Bull, Red Bull Air Race and the 34th America’s Cup.