Open Letter To ESPN

 

mlg espn 300x160 Open Letter To ESPN

Major League Gaming on ESPN but no Triathlon? Can this be true?

Open letters are becoming common place on this blog, but this one is directed right to the Executives of ESPN who have shunned us endurance athletes.

You may be asking where this is coming from and I’m about to tell you.  Yesterday I went for a 30 minute run as part of my training for Ironman Texas and when I got home I flipped on the TV.  What I saw was a bunch of bare-chested men jumping rope, doing standing squats, upside down wall push-ups and pushing a sled that was loaded down with weights.  I think they were supposed to do this 3 or 4 times but I flipped the channel when I fell off my chair and slammed my head against the remote because it put me to sleep.  So when Jeff put up his post yesterday on how to become a better triathlete and the pictures were of him tossing tires and stacking tires and rolling tires I knew he was onto something and it ignited my fire to write a letter to the Executives over at ESPN.

——————————————————-

Dear John Skipper and Norby Williamson –

I am writing this letter to appeal not only to your network motto of World Wide Leader In Sports and put triathlon on television but also to your financial prowess. Triathlon is a growing sport and the demographics show what an impact we can have on your bottom line.  In case you did not know this or need a reminder here are some key stats for you to consider (Thank you Run Skip Run for the stats):

  • ACTIVE
    • Average of $24,408 spent on triathlon related purchases per year
  • AFFLUENT
    • Average HHI: $161,300
    • Median HHI: $122,600
  • CORE
    • Median Age: 40
    • 84% are between 18 and 49
  • EDUCATED
    • 97% have attended college
    • 50% have post-graduate degrees
  • INFLUENTIAL
    • 93% gave triathlon advice in the past year on triathlon-related purchases to an average of 12+ people
  • RESPONSIVE
    • 69% purchased advertised products
    • 61% likely to upgrade to new gear

Source: 2006 Triathlete magazine subscriber study prepared by MRI.

Let’s follow that up with some more specific information.

  • GENDER
    Male ………………………………………………74%; Female……………………………………………26%
  • HOUSEHOLD
    Married ………………………………………….73%; Single …………………………………………….27%; Children 17 or younger …………………….53%
  • FITNESS ACTIVITIES
  • Health-club participation ………………….79%
    Workouts per week
    Fewer than 10 …………………………………74%
    10-14 …………………………………………….21%
    15-19 ……………………………………………..2%
    20+ ………………………………………………..2%
  • LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION
    Event participation …………….4 to 6 per year
    Beginner ………………………………………….8%
    Fitness/Training……………………………….41%
    Competitive ……………………………………51%
  • RUNNING
    Have run a marathon ……………………………………………………58%
    Have run a half-marathon …………………………………………….71%
    Average number of miles per week ………………………………..20
    Pairs of running shoes owned…………………………………………..4
    Pairs of running shoes purchased …………………………..3 pair/year
  • CYCLING
    Average number of miles per week …………………………………75
    Number of bikes owned ……………………………………………….2.6
    Number of bike shoes owned ……………………………………..2 pair
  • NUTRITION
    Consume sports drinks …………………………………………………89%
    Consume energy bars …………………………………………………..88%
    Consume energy gels ……………………………………………………83%
    Use daily vitamin/mineral supplements ………………………….79%
  • AUTOMOTIVE DEMOGRAPHICS
    Own/lease a vehicle ……………………………………………………..98%
    Median number of vehicles owned ……………………………………3
    Own a car …………………………………………………………………69%
    Own an SUV………………………………………………………………..62%
    Own a pick-up truck …………………………………………………….24%
    Own a van/mini-van …………………………………………………….15%
    Purchased a vehicle in the last 12 months……………………….32%
    Plan to buy/lease a vehicle in the next 12 months …………….26%
    Plan to buy/lease an SUV in the next 12 months ……………..43%
    Plan to buy/lease a car in the next 12 months ………………….45%
    Plan to buy/lease a van/mini-van in the next 12 months…….12%
    Plan to buy/lease a pick-up truck in the next 12 months ……..7%
  • TRAVEL
    Have taken a domestic trip in the last 12 months …………….96%
    Average number of domestic trips taken in the last 12 months ……………………………………………………….9
    Average domestic length of stay ……………………………….8.5 days
    Have taken a foreign trip in the last 3 years……………………..68%
    Average number of foreign trips taken in the last 3 years……………………………………………………………..4

As a person with over 15 years of experience in marketing I know that some of your advertisers (Ford, Honda, Toyota, Gatorade, Royal Caribbean, etc) would be thrilled to know that you are attracting this type of market to your network.  Let’s not forget the niche industry that is triathlon and luring them to your network to spend money on ads.  Companies like Trek, Specialized, First Endurance, Honey Stinger (Lance Armstrong — know of him?), Garmin, Timex are just a few that would most likely spend money to get their brand name out in front of those of us who are looking to change or upgrade as well as those just getting involved in the sport.

To also get a feel for how much the sport is growing look no further than inside the sport.  Record numbers of participants but bigger than that is the fact that there are race organizations joining World Triathlon Corporation in putting on events across the  country.  Revolution 3 is growing in popularity and adding races to their national schedule.  In 2012 alone there are going to be 4 new events taking place in Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland and Florida.  Couple that with a new series in 2012 called HITS.  HITS has scheduled 12 events this year across the country including a National Championship for their series.  Each of these events is an opportunity for you to broadcast the sport to the millions and millions of triathlon enthusiasts and newbies alike.

This sport is unlike any other as evidenced by the fact that the saying goes:  Nobody Ever Says Let’s Go PLAY Triathlon.  It is a true test of your athleticism as well as your mental fortitude.  Each and every time I read about the sport I am brought back to your parent company’s Wide World Of Sports from the 1970s and 1980s where the tagline was Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat.  The beauty of triathlon is that both of these can take place within minutes of each other on the same race course.

We train for months at high intensity and forge a plan that we know and have locked down in our brain, that is until we toe the starting line.  When the gun goes off to signal the start of something amazing we are now chasing down our own dreams and fears.  We have a plan but it is most likely going to change over the course of the race.  We will think that we can’t and then think that we can.  We will have multiple conversations with ourselves to try and coax another step out of our legs.  We will promise that we will never do this again, but we all know its a lie.  This sport is addicting because you push yourself to the edge and when you are done you know you could have done more.  That is the beauty.

We have celebrities in the sport like Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack and Mirinda Carfrae but it it is the everyday Jane and Joe that makes this sport what it is.  We find ourselves in others.  We hear their stories of battling cancer and overcoming the toughest of odds to get to the start and have the guts to finish against those same odds.  We can actually see our heroes as they don’t hide behind a facemask like in football or retreat to a dugout when an out is made as in baseball.  Our heroes are swimming, cycling and running the same course with us.  We can high-five them along the way.  We can have conversations with them afterwards and understand what they mean when they discuss the grade of the last hill of the bike because we were there to.

There is a camaraderie  in triathlon that cannot be found anywhere else.  We will never throw a touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson or hit a home run at Fenway Park but we can cross the finish line in Kona.  That is the difference between our sport and all other sports out there.  It doesn’t matter who you are because once you cross that finish line you are an Ironman.  It doesn’t matter if you did it in 9 hours or 16 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds the title is still the same.

That appeal alone should have you not only considering broadcasting triathlon but running to the phone to figure out who to call to get this process started.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Jason

 

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Comments

  1. misszippy says:

    I’m all for it–let’s hope they listen! Here in my town, where we have four triathlons/year and two kids tris, the entire community is involved in the sport. I’ve seen it explode over the past 10 years and I’ve gotta think this translates to a national level, and thus, national viewing interest.
    misszippy recently posted..No breakfast in bed hereMy Profile

  2. Kevin says:

    “97% have attended college” – Have you ever listened to sports talk radio? I think having college educated fans would completely destroy that market. I don’t think anyone who calls into those shows even knows what a college IS! haha

    2.6 bikes… haha… I love that because it makes me think of the token American family with 2.5 kids. I’d rather see that number be 3-4 bikes though – Road, Tri, 29er, CX… and maybe a commuter. So that is 5 bikes per individual. Oh, and don’t forget a tandem to share.

    That list of brands that could benefit from Triathlon is dead on. I’d love to see commercials by those companies. But then when would we see our boner pill/hydroxycut ads?

    As seen on a banner at my race this past weekend: “Real Athletes Run. Otherwise you are just playing a game”
    Kevin recently posted..Foto Friday: TrustMy Profile

  3. no brainer as I said.
    :)
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  4. adena says:

    This is great Jason.. I really hope they listen, I’d love to see better coverage of the sport plus it’s good stuff to watch while you’re on the trainer. ;-)

  5. Jill says:

    I was kinda drooling over the bare-chested 20-30 something year olds pushing a sled….but maybe that’s just me! :)

    The few times I’ve watched the IM Kona, I was glued to the t.v.; I’d definitely like to watch more. Hope you get some attention on this. And when is Denver going to get an IM? Oh….that’d require a lake I guess.

  6. Maria Simone says:

    Please, ESPN, PLLLEEEAAAASSSSEEEEE! Now that we’ve lost Universal Sports, there are no channels to support us. PLLLLEEEAAAAASSSEEEE!!!!!
    Maria Simone recently posted..Season Opener: Bassman Race ReportMy Profile

  7. Nolan says:

    Hello ESPN. For year after year we were with you. Now do something for us. PLEASE
    Nolan recently posted..Wheatgrass BenefitsMy Profile

  8. Bob says:

    Maybe in another time.
    NBC gets pretty good ratings each year with the Kona broadcast due to the extremely fine editing they do.
    That costs a lot of money.
    It is a lot easier (and cost effective) for networks to show people throwing tires, doing push ups, grunting and screaming all in one location.
    It sells beer and hamburgers at McDonalds
    For the 1%ers of us out there, we already buy the Gatorade (not really, Bubba USA buys it after watching tire throwing, but I digress), Garmins, Timex so their market wouldn’t appreciate that greatly therefore their potential lack of sponsorship.
    I think the next step is for a major network to pick up the broadcast of 70.3 Worlds in Vegas.
    Also, NBC used to (do they still?) broadcast Escape from Alcatraz which is a crowd pleaser due to the mystique of Alcatraz.
    That is the next step to get production companies interested. Extreme and mystique sells. St George could have fallen into the category with some good editing. Oh well, not now..
    It would be smart for WTC to make some alliances with production companies in the next few years to help expand their brand. It is the next logical step.
    Bob recently posted..BIKEMy Profile

  9. Jeff Irvin says:

    This would be cool as long as it doesn’t cut into the CF games or Bowling!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..I am now faster at triathlon …My Profile

  10. Matt Oravec says:

    Can we please add in giant tractor tires to triathlon? I think I might have a chance to get out of T2 faster this way after studying Jeff’s training tutorial!
    Matt Oravec recently posted..No Plan – Training Plan in ReviewMy Profile

  11. MerlinAma says:

    As a cyclist (with tri friends), let me suggest that we (cyclists & triathletes) like to get out and DO what we do. Cyclists watch the TDF and triathletes watch Kona. I personally don’t have time for much else. When I do watch other cycling events, it’s not uncommon to fall asleep as it is after a ride and a meal. So I’m recovering.
    It would be great if we could get one channel for all cycling, triathlons, runs etc so advertisers could get maximum benefit. I know cycling is shown on NBC Sports & Unversal both but they aren’t carried by the same cable/satellite providers. That’s a far bigger issue to me than ESPN and the bogus programming they have.
    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

    • CTER says:

      You are welcome!

      For me getting it on mainstream is important b/c of the exposure. I can never find NBC Universal or Versus.

      And yes, while we are out doing what we do we can always DVR the show and watch at a later date. I know I still have Kona from last year and 2 years ago as well as Clearwater from 2 years ago.

  12. Chuck says:

    Dude the crossfit games were awesome! Granted, I totally see your point and agree, but I’ve got to give props to those Crossfit guys because they push themselves in ways that many athletes (not you or I) never will. It would be nice to see a more balance or sports on TV. That God for NBC Sports channel (formally Versus Network).

    How about some more freaking hockey on TV?!

    And I read this today and thought it might be interesting you:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-bacon-phd-ma-ma/weight-of-the-nation_b_1516251.html?ref=healthy-living
    Chuck recently posted..Do you know how to hurt?My Profile

  13. BDD says:

    Well stated

  14. ITU triathlons make for good TV – they are well under 2 hours so they fit a programming block perfectly, relatively cheap to produce (especially when you consider all networks will use the same pool video feed), and usually play out in a fairly tight pack of racers from beginning to end.

    The 140.6 get tricky, especially live. First, it’s a long race. And unlike cycling where they broadcast the last 2 hours (3 tops) of a stage, that doesn’t work with triathlon since with 2 hours to go, the athletes are basically about to get off the bike, so you’ve effectively missed 2/3rds of the action.

    The NBC specials are cool, but your other readers are right – once you step into post production, things really start to get expensive. That said, I’m surprised that WTC has not gotten any farther with this, given their track record with pushing into the mainstream in almost every other area.

  15. im 80 years old,and im sick of of all the sports comentators talking up the yards needed by peterson to

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