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26 May 2021
4 min read
CEO's Column ○ Championship
Column by Super League Triathlon CEO Michael D’hulst
Revealing Super League Triathlon’s 2021 Championship Series has been the culmination of years of hard work.
The team and I have spent many hours working to build profile for our race formats, grow an audience and get traction from key broadcast partners.
This Season is dialling it back to the core of Super League – developing triathlon as a spectator sport that invites the fans in for a spectacular journey with four back-to-back race weekends throughout September.
It has been a long held ambition to break into the key markets for triathlon and the biggest cities in those markets. To do that you have to bring professional racing back to London, you have to go to Munich, you have to be in the US, and we have now achieved that.
We are set up to build on these locations. We are not just signing one year contracts. We have a long term vision around these events. We are here to stay.
Being in these major cities really is vital. We have already seen the success, impact and media value that an event in London delivers with the Arena Games. The increase in viewership compared to a normal triathlon which is often in a more of a destination location is massive.
These big locations bring big broadcast interest. Racing in Munich, for example, we have Bayerische Rundfunk and Sport1, because they see we are in Germany and they have seen the success of the Arena Games on their channel so they commit to the Series. That is credit to the excitement of the format but also being in the right locations.
We have also pushed hard to make sure the events are happening back-to-back because it is very powerful to get a snowball effect. It’s a harder sell to get engaged if you watch a great event and the next one comes around three months later.
COVID is obviously still looming over us. There are two sides to it – for events like London and Munich we are purely focussed on a professional event right now and that makes them easier to control.
Malibu and Jersey have an important element of mass participation, which requires even further precise planning. Malibu has more than 5,000 people participating and yearly we raise over $1m for charity making it the biggest fundraising triathlon in the world.
Wherever we are we are extremely sensitive to what governments and stakeholders want. That is part of being a good partner. It is never all about us.
Feedback from the athletes has been incredibly positive. They believe in the vision and they can see the benefit of having back-to-back races in major locations because they know that it gets more attention. It’s undeniable. We can just look at the numbers.
We are also building closer relationships with the athletes, and the new contract structure we have this year gives them more stability in COVID times and rewards them not only for racing but also a commitment to content etc. That is a real win-win for both parties, and for athletes it shows we are backing them and will reward them even if they are not racing.
The content is also designed and promoted to build their followings, and the viewing numbers of the athlete content we have been producing is exceptional.
The way Super League positions itself is to leverage the demographic that triathlon has. By focussing on the professional element we build a network of broadcasters and are growing a digital presence.
If you listen to the recent LinkedIn video from Martin Cawte, our CCO, we are making Super League Triathlon a place where business is done.
The value proposition to major sponsors is quite simple – we can prove it’s an interesting demographic and we can prove media value through reporting from broadcast and digital.
We have set ourselves a goal to deliver an ROI of double what traditional sports offer and we are well on our way to doing that if we look at the last numbers of London.
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