How can you turn spectators into fans?
The sport of cycling has a money problem. Can the sport create a platform that can effectively engage and monetize global viewership?
After a successful 2021 season, this year promises to be even better as we open up our live recording sessions to our (virtual) audience.
EY is working with a consortium of world tour pro cycling teams, to transform the commercial model of the sport with digital, data and technology. In addition to exclusive pro cycling insights, DoubleShift talks business with perspectives from ‘inside the sport’ on topics such as innovation, teaming and leadership. From March to September 2022, a very intimate format brings your more access, on-demand content and trackside experiences. You will have exclusive access to the leaders in the sport. Attend the live interviews and ask your burning questions. International Cycling Executives (ICE) is hosting the series on EY’s behalf, so please register here or contact your EY partner for more information.
Video footage supplied by DoubleShift
On the face of it, professional cycling should be easy to monetize. With more than a billion bicycles in the world, there is an opportunity to show casual cyclers the thrill of watching professionals race on TV.
Yet, despite growing interest from media network providers and an expanding fanbase, the sport of cycling has been stubbornly resistant to effective monetization. However, a consortium of professional cycling teams dedicated to resolving this issue came to EY professionals for help.
The teams want to answer one critical question: How do we improve the monetizing possibilities of the sport?
Why has generating revenue for professional cycling been so dysfunctional? For a perspective on the opportunities, global commercial cycling revenues are only US$600 million – compared to US$8.2 billion in the NFL (National Football League), and US$16.8 billion between the five biggest European football leagues.
The difference is these sports benefit from being able to host large, ticketed events at a singular location. Cycling, where races cover thousands of miles of open road, does not have this luxury for the overwhelming majority of events. Without equivalent infrastructure, cycling struggles to achieve the commercial heights of other sports.
Ironically, with pro cycling, it’s the most dedicated fans – those close to the action and watching by the roadside – who can miss the most. More casual viewers, watching on TV or listening on the radio, can get a more holistic coverage of the race; fans by the roadside can only catch a glimpse of the cyclists as they go past.
But cycling does have its own assets: professional cyclists generate huge amounts of data from heart rate, to bike speed, to information about the terrain on which they are riding. Properly captured, this data presents a huge opportunity for cycling superfans to develop closer, and more intimate engagements with the sport and their favorite teams and riders.
The teams have close access to these opportunities – they generate terabytes of raw data every year. Their goal was to capture, transform and deliver this data in an enticing and impactful manner to a global cycling audience of 565 million people.
This presented a fascinating problem: how do you transmit thousands of data points per second out of a live sporting event while it moves from Bologna to Rome, all across the Alps and everywhere else? You can transmit data at a stadium, though difficult, but how can teams do it in a bike race that moves 200 miles down the road every day? The EY professionals responded, “This is a fantastic IoT challenge.”
And if EY professionals and the teams could overcome the challenge, they would have the opportunity to give fans worldwide a leading platform to directly engage with cycling – as the event is happening – and create the monetizing foundations for a truly effective commercial cycling economy.