Karting and Television Coverage - Is it worth it?

I posted this on ekartingnews facebook article about TV coverage, I thought it might be worth discussing.

"I both agree and disagree with this article. Its hard from an outsiders perspective to know exactly what is being hoped for with television coverage at all. We don’t know the demographics of the viewers of the Supernats, its relatively easy to find the channels demographics, but are they watching this show, or just football.

SKUSA are rightly able to choose to put in this investment for their own reasons, it may be to get series sponsors, it may be to keep drivers happy, I don’t know. But I think I’d be correct in saying that Karting participation globally has dropped as television coverage has increased (although no doubt purely coincidence).

But i would argue that all Motorsport needs to get in on the streaming or online game, with the exception of live sport DVR viewing started to exceed live viewing in 2015 and on demand viewing like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime are in the ascendancy. People want to watch things when they want to watch them, so why bother putting it on a broadcast network at all.

Amazon just last month stated they are very interested in showing sports and they have 60 million subscribers of which their algorithms will very quickly find those interested in Motorsport.

So that’s my viewpoint, for me cable is dead and Motorsport as always is about 25 years behind (except the Sepang 6 hours which streamed on Facebook!)."

For those who didn’t read the article and don’t want to, it said SKUSA paid $150,000 for the television coverage, I assume thats the whole Protour and not just the Supernats.

I could talk for days about this… It’s one of the big reasons I started KP. I’m going a little off topic here, but anyway…

“Karting doesn’t need more coverage or exposure, it needs to get organized and get it’s head out of it’s ass.”

~ Me

Karting has been shown over and over again alongside racing “pros” and celebs across various media channels. It’s been part of and made the subject of movies. There’s over 1m karting videos on youtube. How much exposure is enough?

The web experience of karting needs to be needs to be fixed in a bunch of ways before we can leverage ANY kind of media campaign that extends outside our own ecosystem. Something that’s independent of the different org divisions, taking a pragmatic “karting as an ecosystem” approach.

That’s what we’re working towards with KartPulse and you’ll be seeing us double down on that in 2017. A place you can go to not just find out about the sport and enjoy content, but actually be able to take action.

Now having said that, the SKUSA deal makes sense as a value add for its customers. But as far as growing the sport is concerned it’s not likely to move the needle.

That’s admirable.

For youtube exposure, it depends on what you define as good exposure. I am continuously getting bombarded by the same crash compilation video. However if I was thinking about getting my kid into karting would this get me in, no way.

If we’re talking about how to get more people into karting, you just have to think about how you got in yourself. Mine was Formula 1 drivers started in karting, then visited a track. I’ve spoken to my dad about this and he has said that if he went to track now he wouldn’t start karting, back in the 90’s (in the UK) it was mainly father and son out the back of trailer or car. Now you walk into most tracks in the UK (and even the Greg Moore Raceway near Vancouver) and the first thing you are greeted by is big transporters. Big transporters put newbies off and their tents are intimidating.

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Also, I think that if karting was more organized and promoted as events at the grassroots level, it would help more people be able to start join the sport. Right now, even if people saw the sport on television, it’s so confusing on what needs to be done to get started, I can see people getting frustrated and not want to start karting.

Personally, if I saw karting on television at a Supernats level, I would assume that it would be run by super wealthy people where I couldn’t afford to participate, so I wouldn’t even try to be involved. That’s what it was like for me for almost 20 years. I just assumed that it was too expensive, and I didn’t even try to race.

I got involved in the sport because of a local grassroots racer, who showed me an affordable entry point to start racing, and I learned more as I went.

That was one of the reasons that I started with James to help develop KartPulse - To help people figure out what to do one they decided they wanted to start racing.

I will say though, having read the source article on this discussion, I basically pulled from it that it said that ‘SKUSA gets to invest in what SKUSA wants, so just deal with it.’

Albeit a fair point, because they can target their investment however they want, I do think that the world of karting doesn’t just evolve around SKUSA, and that there could be innovative ways to promote karting in creative ways in the online space.

The biggest challenge that I see is that most people don’t take the time to do any basic editing (IE: Camtasia Studio level editing) or production work to make the content worth watching. No one wants to just sit online and watch 7 minutes of you sitting on the grid and then a 30 minute POV race. At least not in large numbers.

I think that if certain personalities in karting embraced online media a bit more outwardly, and took some care in their work, that it would help grow the sport a little bit at a time. Would there be an suddenly explosion of interest in karting? No. But, it would make the sport look more exciting and tangible for people to get into.

At least in my opinion, anyway.

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Agree fully, the quality of the content matters as well. I think full-on karting “race” coverage has very limited appeal, it’s typically lengthy and you have to be pretty interested in karting to want to watch it. I suspect the ROI would be better on focused media, professionally produced for given avatars would be the best way to go. But, on the other hand, us racers like to stroke our own egos :brap:

To get more people in (and to retain them), we need to understand and identify what the values of karting are, and present them to folks that share those values.

If I limit it to just how I got started (Seeing Senna V Prost at Bercy) then i’m going to be constrained to a very limited narrative. Also, I think of the attrition rate of that demographic, which is pretty bad, which is to be expected given the expectation that is set for the sport. That it’s a stepping stone and something to grow out of or move “up” from.

In short, IMO karting when presenting itself needs to place a lot less emphasis on the stepping stone/pro grooming and more on, it’s just good ***kin fun.

The intimidation factor is real when you see the big trailers (I remember it well even at Mondello in 94), but I think that can be managed with good information (again managing expectations) and a combination of online/offline resources.

I totally agree with what you have been getting at. There’s a lot of focus on the top level, while to make us look appealing we should look at the club/grassroots level. However, that’s harder to sell to a company that wants to look at racing. You would need an individual whose emphasis isn’t on making money but creating exposure at theach lower level.

What would exposure do and what should it look like in your opinion?

I’d also love to see someone provide an example of this sort of grassroots exposure. I’ve talked to a good number of people who have a hypothetical solution, but I’d like to see an example in another market/sport where this idea works.

Focusing on the (relatively) laid back approach in the club level. For the most part, everyone’s friends and at my track at least many people are willing to help out. Showing people how it’s like for the majority, not the few. Even bringing in budget possibly to give people a scale of measure for their own reference. If we got that, and gave people places to go to for more help maybe that’d reach a large audience. Think like Kart Life but for poor(er) people

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Have you seen “The Video” by @DavinRS?

I have not! But that’s an awesome video

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The old fotage they ran on espn 2 was what they need to show it air in the late 90 was a good program need more of this kind of exposure from the velodrome like it was

I think you are also fighting a societal issue and this has come up a lot on the UK forums.

Generally (and I’m being very general) speaking millennials (my generation) seem to want to be flashy without putting any work in (a reality star). Karting is not that without plowing in a lot of money. Karting is more like, put a lot of work in, and don’t look flashy at all. So this issue presents itself in, amongst other things, the office kitchen conversation, and no one wants to tell you how they spent a day getting wet in a 11hp kart, when they could tell you they did some drifting in a 250hp skyline.

So my feeling is karting is losing the big money to cars, and the little money to simulators or video games. In Canada I have tried to get people out in karts but they just won’t do it unless its free, and I don’t own a kart to let them try.

I think we’ve seen this in the way television programs are produced, you either have oldschool producers desperately hanging on to the old way of doing race coverages (like SuperNats) or reality tv. And the problem is both of these present an either unattainable (SuperNats) or unwantable (Reality tv) option.

Now I have seen two interesting initiatives work in the UK, both by the same guy. One is Schools karting (http://www.bskc.co.uk/) and the other University (http://www.bukc.co.uk/). This isn’t television coverage but I think its one of the better ways to get people into karting. I did BUKC and it was some of the most fun I’ve had karting.

Unfortunately I don’t have the creative streak to see how you could make karting work on TV for anyone that isn’t already in karting.

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Totally a social\societal issue. As well as a cultural one within our sport itself.

That’s the perception… But… At the Race Track Business Conference some data was discussed that shows favorably for automotive interests among this demographic (I’m 1980 so I think I’m on the cusp?) . There’s also a strong interest in “experiential” interests, so that’s good too.

I’ll be writing a bit more about this at some point in the next few weeks.

Like you pointed at with what’s happening in the UK, moving away from advertising/exposure (shiney object IMO) and towards more dynamic ways to present the sport beyond just merely racing will likely yield benefits in the long run.