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EWS Coverage & the overall ROI for companies sponsoring enduro racers

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6/7/2022 12:25 PM

I'll open this up by simply stating I love bike racing. To add, I believe enduro racing might be the most fun kind of bike racing I've ever done (without a motor). Unfortunately, its one of the harder sports when it comes to storytelling; breaking down what happened out there during a day in an exciting medium for a casual fan to get excited about. For reasons I don't need to articulate, DH racing has done a great job at the world cup level "telling the story of the sport". Anyone can watch a Red Bull WC broadcast and probably get into it. The format obviously lends itself to easier TV coverage, easier journalism-ing (lol) and easier in person spectating.

Robot posted a meme many years ago likening submarine racing to enduro (or the other way around). Sure seems to be coming true. I tried to follow the EWS race this weekend, and outside a results sheets, refreshing a timing page, some underwhelming videos and one pinkbike photo blast there was next to nothing. Wyn TV was the storyteller (which is great, but hardly enough to warrant the traveling circus) and I have to wonder...is it remotely worth sponsoring any EWS team/racer? Does this sort of thing even vaguely result in bike or product sales?

While Yeti may continue to reap the rewards of Richie's performance, I'd say the buck stops there. Literally. I bet a phoned in/AI written Pinkbike review moves more bikes or product than any other EWS performance. Nate Hills probably garners more eyeballs on one piece of content than all the EWS stuff combined.

So is this "peak enduro"? Will companies begin pulling support, especially now that the bike boom is (likely) over? Is there a way to cover enduro racing that is actually interesting & engaging? Is the money there to warrant the coverage?

I don't know how many hundreds of racers were at Tweed Valley, but it was a lot. I know most are barely supported, but its still a massive amount of money put forth, by the racers, the companies and the race sponsors.

Makes ya think...

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6/7/2022 1:13 PM

Any kind of racing sponsorship is difficult to activate. If they can do it for DH, they can do it for Enduro as well. If anything, I think Enduro is more relatable to the average consumer anyway; we regular Joes can imagine riding a bike up to the top of the nearest hill and bombing down, all on a bike that will also behave on a bike path or "easy" ride. That could mean Enduro has more potential. Many/most of us can't justify spending thousands of dollars on a bike that has to be taken to a lift in order to ride.

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6/7/2022 2:10 PM

Falcon wrote:

Any kind of racing sponsorship is difficult to activate. If they can do it for DH, they can do it for Enduro as well. If ...more

I'm generally inclined to agree here. I think most riders have an easier time spending a few grand on a bike they could ride at their local trails and take to bike park (lift service) than a bike that would just be for lift access riding. From what i'm seeing at my local bike park, enduro bikes typically make up around 50% of the bikes on the mountain on a given day.

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6/7/2022 3:25 PM

thanks for starting this, jeff. lack of ews coverage was a topic of discussion i had w/ a few people this weekend. lack of coverage specifically from the EWS itself. vital hasn't covered EWS in any significant way for a while now (b/c the audience interest race reports was negligible), so we're not helping, but i thought the Discovery+ involvement meant more EWS coverage for everyone. the opposite felt true. their queen stage course preview POV hit youtube after the race was over. the tweed coverage overall felt slim-to-none out of them. maybe the venue was a bit lackluster, but it felt like 80% flow trail footage from 3 or 4 total dadcam angles all weekend (i know there was a drone in that final vid). was there a bigger presence on Instagram or TikTok or something?
[tangent] fingers crossed they don't kill DH next year [/tangent]

i think if DH racing does well (lump in rampage, too), enduro and trail bikes sell. just like F1/indy/nascar over WRC, the spectacle and digestibility of a high-intensity, encapsulated, short-form event is so much more appealing than a spreadsheet of times and splits over a handful of days where someone could "win" three times but then end up in 13th place overall. it takes too much work to be a fan. is that sad? f'ing right it is, but enduro is hardly the only race format to get people hyped on mountain bikes.

I'll be really curious to see what travel costs/gas prices/economy etc do to series like the EWS and world cup next year. maybe nothing, but that question of ROI seems pretty heavy to me after this weekend's event.

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6/7/2022 3:51 PM

Let us remember....



But yeah, EWS coverage these days is pretty bad – but not Unbound Gravel livestream bad, that was horrendous. I was watching that with my nephew on Saturday and he said "we already saw this part" to which I replied "no, it just all looks the same."

Excited for a World Cup weekend!

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MRP - VP of Business Dev.

6/7/2022 4:21 PM

EWS itself released a 38 minute weekend recap today, on their own channel and GMBN. Whatever you want to say about GMBN, doesn't really matter right now since they're the ones that got tapped to cover at least this season. And ss many have said, it's harder to cover than DH, but even Red Bull and UCI don't even have their (much shorter) DH recaps until a day or two after the event.

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6/7/2022 4:25 PM

Buddy of mine works for a brand. Only thing stopping them from leaving Enduro is uncertainty around the DH coverage next year. Otherwise bang for the buck, EWS is a very poor investment.

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6/7/2022 4:29 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/7/2022 4:36 PM

Enduro is arguably the most accessible and popular form of mtb there is right now, the market is after that do it all bike and here is the platform to showcase that on a grand scale. The bikes are so capable now and truly do pedal well that you could just have that 150/160mm bike and ride anything. The whole race on Sunday sell on Monday pun really does come into effect here so manufacturers will/should put their best foot forward with a presence IMO.

But here is the sticking point, the official coverage/media is shithouse! The platform is there, the fastest dudes in the world on production bikes hauling ass at mind bending speeds, and they can't capture this to save their lives.

Now logistically, setting up cameras in the woods over such a vast distance is extremely difficult. But FFS vital raw with one lone guy with a dad cam is better than what we are getting at an official level.

I have HUGE concerns about what this will mean for WCDH with the same people running the media show. Redbull have done an amazing job of covering WCDH and the rubbish that came from the last round in Scotland was concerning. If this is the standard we are going to receive then I fear that there will be less value for teams to sink money into a "irrelevant" sport where only a few frames are sold a year. Yes, to me DH will always be the pinnacle and I'd follow it no matter what but this might not be the case for your more casual fan.

So who do teams sink their money into. Do you throw your funds at the top in the world with the personality of a fish? Do you go for the likeable and relatable sort? Do you want a combination of the both? Guys like Wynn and Jack Moir are so likeable their results are almost irrelevant. Fortunately for Jack he has that package of charisma and race results that is a companies wet dream, same could be said for Jesse Melamed.

TLDR; all the ingredients for a kick ass enduro recipe are there, you just need a chef (media) not to fuck this cake up!

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6/7/2022 4:42 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/7/2022 4:44 PM

Few more thoughts I wanted to put here...

First, I never suggested a DH bike was more likely to sell than an enduro bike (or really, any other bike). Many have made the analogy before, but nobody is making a direct car buying decisions (this side of a billionaire) off of formula one (the most popular form of motor racing in the world). Same will ring true for DH (DH bikes will likely become a loss for most companies). I could start another thread on this, so I'll keep it there for now. Point is - DH isn't just about selling DH frames, its about the best "gravity storytelling in bikes" and brand equity. IE, I bet most people who loosely follow the sport of racing can name 10 DH racers. I bet most would be hard pressed to name 10 enduro racers.

Second, to those saying EWS racing does help sell bikes. Really? Who got 7th at Tweed Valley? What bike are they on? Seriously, I love this stuff and I barely even know 1/2 the riders in the top 30. DH? I know every single one of them.

Third, have you ever felt like you couldn't leave your device/screen/whatever cause some enduro content was on? I never have. Literally, ever. WC DH racing? Hell - I replayed Rob and Nigel's call of Danny's run some 8??? years ago for my gf last night (she's just starting to ride) and loved every second of it.

The big point I'm making here is enduro is awesome. But boy is it a tough sell for the companies who sponsor it. The EWS was supposed to be the next big thing in the sport, and in lots of ways it is. But I feel we've hit "peak enduro" and companies are going to realize the crux the sport is facing...its a very difficult problem to solve, too. Its hard to show one race course live. It seems impossible to showcase 5+ with hundreds of riders on different courses at different times. Its controlled chaos out there that never seems to make sense until its done and dusted.

I hope someone smarter than myself figures it out. Until then, I'd expect money to go out of the sport, and into other things. Which I suppose, is okay...

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6/7/2022 4:44 PM

I know EWS IG had little clips during the race but that’s not a lot. I assume the logistics of broadcasting the entire race like a DH race would be troublesome but could you do that for the pro state and the final stage? Didn’t they broadcast the final stage at Cranksworks before?

Could the EWS be a test spot for bikes? Allows you to build and test one if not the most popular segment of bikes? Is that worth it I have no idea.

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6/7/2022 5:09 PM

just6979 wrote:

EWS itself released a 38 minute weekend recap today, on their own channel and GMBN. Whatever you want to say about GMBN, ...more

just skimmed the 38 minute one - this video seemed like a mashup of the vids they launched throughout the week. most was backstory about what EWS is, its history and maybe an extra interview or two? carlson is a good fit out there. his stuff was fun. the last 13 mins were e-ews. most of the vid seemed like it was produced well before the event or at least on the first days. not sure why it took until Tuesday to launch. the race is a memory by then IMO.

i whole-heartedly understand just how difficult all this content is to produce. i'm not faulting individuals or their efforts. i'm really curious what kind of budget they have. it doesn't feel like a lot, and i'd imagine they're all running around ragged.

like jeff, I'm curious about $$ invested by brands vs coverage/content expectations from the EWS or its partners

(is gmbn the only partner? they had the highlights and final vid on their channel and gmbn tech channel had two pit bits videos (both of which smoked any race coverage in view counts, as per usual). i don't understand breaking up the content between two channels, but hey, they have 1.87m/405k subs, so...)

sorry to ramble. not trying to bum out any of the people on the ground working hard.

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6/7/2022 5:12 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/7/2022 5:18 PM

Would it be better to compare DH to MX/SX and Enduro to.... Enduro? It seems like there is very little coverage of Enduro moto but most people would ride that style of bike/tracks more than SX/MX but pretty much only watch SX/MX... But they probably dont even watch Outdoor National's becomes of the shit coverage MAVTV. I hope Disco+ does better than them

I wonder how many bike companies are sticking with EWS because they're pushing E-EWS?

I do like enduro and have raced EWS. I would like to see more coverage, I wish we could see more photos or videos but I don't know how they would bring it to the same heights as DH for excitement.

Also - I think they made some weird shit go on with the Pro stage and Queen stage stuff. Get rid of that stuff and go back to 2 day format mega days

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6/7/2022 5:24 PM

I think perception is a big issue here, and maybe the audience needs to be weaned off the Red Bull DH mindset. Maybe EWS is never going to be an interesting live event like a DH race can be. In the era of magazines we used to get race reports 1-3 months after they happened, and now we're all p*ssed because the EWS live timing suffered a glitch while we were refreshing the website every minute!

EWS is a closer match to the lifestyle of most MTB riders, so it seems like a good fit to have some preview shows before an event and a few highlights programs across the week after the event, that can go beyond just race times and get us closer to the mood, lifestyle, socializing, techy background, all that stuff. I haven't seen the highlights that were released today, but I thought last year's coverage was heading in the right direction.

Not sure if that approach is any better or worse for riders in getting and keeping sponsorship, but in general I think the vast majority of riders need to earn their keep by making their own edits, sharing POV footage, and all that stuff beyond simply getting on or near the podium anyway

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6/7/2022 6:08 PM

What if courses were designed to bring technical climbing more into play? Billinghurst and Lenosky have the crowds pumped up. What better places to put remote cameras than key climbs and quality DH sections? Twelve friends with phones could put together a pretty sweet video. Now bring in that sweet GMBN money and Boom!

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6/7/2022 6:48 PM

@noah - if we ever got a raw from an EWS, it was b/c we lucked out having a filmer friend there. way too spendy for us to send a filmer to every round for a raw, especially when the series was even more spread out over the globe

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6/7/2022 8:37 PM

sspomer wrote:

thanks for starting this, jeff. lack of ews coverage was a topic of discussion i had w/ a few people this weekend. lack of ...more

Really miss your post race slide shows with interviews from Sven, Borris ect. Felt like that was some of the best insight into racing we had.

Wish they went with a freeski world tour type of event/filming. Run the race and film it all Saturday, release to public Sunday with a well edited race video to watch with commentary.

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6/7/2022 9:43 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/7/2022 9:46 PM

thegromit wrote:

Would it be better to compare DH to MX/SX and Enduro to.... Enduro? It seems like there is very little coverage of Enduro moto ...more

Your first point is very much where I'm coming from. I race enduro. Love the sport (hard enduro). But outside the top 8 guys (MAYBE) support is almost non existent. As a result, its a sport of passion.

I want to be clear. My point is not to say "enduro sucks", "enduro racing should go away", "DH is better" etc. My point is to ask "is sponsoring an EWS racer/race team remotely worth it?". If it is, I'm asking what I'm missing. If you *want* it to be, but you recognize that it isn't, what could be changed to tell a better story?

Its a big question, with no simple answer. Most "stage" style sports this side of the TDF or Group B has struggled with this. You need so much infrastructure, right on down to a fleet of helicopters running the entire race to make it worthwhile.

Part of my posting this is to also suggest we may be at the tail end of a golden era. I'm not so sure we'll see so many racers get factory level support for enduro, companies traveling race to race (burning tens of thousands per event), and even a reality tv show where the end prize is a contract with a bike brand. We'll probably see something closer to hard enduro on the moto side (and please, Red Bull, do your thing - their recaps are great in that sport).

Ultimately, the sport (and bikes) aren't going anywhere. But I would bet its not going to have the same luster it does now, and if you are an up and coming kid, the decision like Richie had (DH or enduro) won't really be there the way it was for him. It'll be clear - if you *can* win at the WC DH level, there is a much higher likelihood of support with a real contract on that side the same way if you can win a SX race, you probably aren't going to walk away from that to take a crack at Romaniacs...

Just a hunch.

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6/8/2022 12:56 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/8/2022 1:56 AM

Personal and biased viewpoint here, but I'm also feeling strangely disinterested or at least disconnected from the EWS races. Mostly I think the lack of slideshow and in depth interviews leading up and during the event kinda killed that urge to be fully invested and consume every piece of media to understand the race. In that sense I think EWS was almost more media friendly in the lead up to an event for. The point of view that a DH live feed will catch you up to speed (pov, interviews, commentary) even if you only tuned in on race day. To enjoy EWS you need to be a super fan, but even so now, without social media at least, it feels like it is just reading the results during the event and then putting on the highlights after the fact in the background...

I know most people don't like/care about ebikes, but they could build a better preview video on race day based on ebike footage: this was the key stage, this corner took Vouilloz out, conditions on track were mint for this stage...

Last year they had a great story to tell: Jack Vs Jacked, I feel like interest was high to see who would come out on top, before that it was all about Sam fanboyism going rampant. Not sure they can find a good angle this year...

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6/8/2022 3:01 AM

Maybe ask Downhill Southeast how they do it?

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6/8/2022 3:47 AM

There was a great highlights show last year where they had a considerable amount of head cam views from both Jack and Richie, that where played side by side for comparison which I thought made for some pretty exciting/intresting watching. Iv always thought the highlights show would be better if it was more based on what wrc motorsport do, which is mostly inboard views and commentary. They have far bigger courses than a ews course and manage to make it seem like your seeing a lot off it. But in reality it's just a few out side shots from a few stages spliced in-between the onboards. I think that same round they maybe did a more "redbull dh" style Pro stage that I thought was great too.
Interviews with the riders are also a big important part, and although ews did seem to do this in the begin, the last few seasons have been less and less, which is a shame as that's what gives you the real connection with how things are playing out.

Strangely, actually feel ews coverage was more engaging when there was less video, when pinkbike/vital would have big photo galleries of the venues, riding and my fav, really indepth bike checks! Always loved sven and Boris slide show interviews too, they always seem to get the highs and lows of the feels!

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6/8/2022 5:03 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/8/2022 5:20 AM

in order to be more positive, i put together a list of (almost) all the EWS vids i could find. (jeff, i know your original question is just that, a question, not something negative. i end up getting crusty and negative, so i'm trying to make up for that here)
https://www.vitalmtb.com/features/Almost-All-the-EWS-Videos-from-Tweed-Valley-We-Could-Find,3775

edit - i hadn't seen jesse melamed's "star wars" POV until today. that showcased an intensity of the event i hadn't experienced yet. freaking gnarly!

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6/8/2022 5:27 AM

sspomer wrote:

in order to be more positive, i put together a list of (almost) all the EWS vids i could find. (jeff, i know your original ...more

But isn’t that the point if this topic: there is going to need to be MORE FILMERs. Whether you got drones, or -most likely- an army of media folks like, uhhhhhh World Cup dh?
On a positive note: what a consumable organic advertising product this would be. If only there was literally 10-20 filmers running around the globe producing an incredible story for at least the top pro 15 men and women! For the entire series! With Raws and pit insights ! And the occasional follow drone behind a pro woman to big up the young trail riding girls around the world.

It takes money to make money. It also takes mad money to make incredibly vibrant rad things.
Until someone like- well Red Bull- steps up and puts the money in front of the making of the thing, we get this very standard product that I also feel is reflective of the motorcycle racing situation. Hard enduro? Pretty top notch coverage. At one event in the whole world. I’m not buying a sport track super bike thing, but I can watch those races anytime I want. And man do they make my heart race. But I’m a trail rider. And that kind of racing (Xc dirtbike) has incredibly limited media to consume. Yet is full of the bikes we all buy, guys we could related to on a lot of levels, and would be so labor and cash intensive to produce that clay porter would need three seasons to make a really good 90 minute movie out of it alone.

And it would be brilliant.
Army of media: cash
Drones pilots: cash
Production teams making miracles overnight & delivering to our sweaty mouths instantly the next day: Sven Martin.

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PNW ROOTS
ROCKY MT. HIGH

6/8/2022 5:40 AM

sspomer wrote:

just skimmed the 38 minute one - this video seemed like a mashup of the vids they launched throughout the week. most was ...more

I just skimmed the 38 minute video as well. I couldn't help but feel like 50% of the video was directed at the investors and stakeholders at Discovery. All of the background filler, recaps of past races, and rider mini-bio's felt like a Shark Tank presentation by the EWS to get more $$$$ out of Discovery.

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6/8/2022 6:09 AM

Going Racing is almost never “worth it”, but it is always worthwhile.

Fielding a race program is about the Values, not the “ROI” racing brings to a brand.

Racing at an EWS venue during the same time period as the marquee event is open to just about anyone with the desire to experience top-level enduro racing.

Like the NORBA series, a big part of the event experience is “bringing the tribe together”, and allowing regular people to race most of the same tracks on the same weekend as the people who do it fastest.

Now, I say this as someone who has never attended an EWS- but it’s clear that the organization’s focus is on maintaining Enduro. If the “Factory” programs do a good job being friendly and supportive in the paddock, and the athletes continue to be accessible, cool humans, the series does all it really needs to do- be the gathering place for the world’s enduro fiends.

Considering how few people live anywhere near a place to use an “enduro bike”, and how far the industry has pushed lower/slacker/longer, the majority of enduro bikes are just as useless as DH bikes… you can just pedal them up a hill… but they aren’t going to necessarily be fun or even fast coming back down the hill unless you have world class terrain to ride.

Let the industry spend less money on content production and more on supporting athletes. If a brand wants some content, let them fill another semi-forgettable shreddit.

The memories from the EWS are being made for and by the participants, and that’s fine. Bike racing for bike racers will always have it’s own intrinsic value that you can’t calculate on a balance sheet.

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6/8/2022 7:00 AM

thegromit wrote:

Would it be better to compare DH to MX/SX and Enduro to.... Enduro? It seems like there is very little coverage of Enduro moto ...more

jeff.brines wrote:

Your first point is very much where I'm coming from. I race enduro. Love the sport (hard enduro). But outside the top 8 guys ...more

I'm curious how many companies are still throwing in because of the E-EWS series and that exposure? The reality TV winner got a contract but mostly for racing E-EWS.

I think the coverage was better just through some of the photo stories they used to do. When I first saw the photos from Nevados De Chillian- 2014 season I think I thought I want to go there. I think if they (EWS) can continue to go to new places that make biking look like an adventure they can keep people hooked. If they just consistently go to the same couple places swapping years it start to loose some luster.

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6/8/2022 7:25 AM

Just_this_guy wrote:

I think perception is a big issue here, and maybe the audience needs to be weaned off the Red Bull DH mindset. Maybe EWS is ...more

I think you pretty much just proved Jeff's point...
I know for me race recap's a few days past the race are pretty much useless. Esepcially when the next event is starting. Guaranteed ill be looking at fresh DH coverage ASAP this week and not the old EWS stuff.

I agree with Jeff, without better coverage I don't see how teams can be sinking, what like 500K a year to send Enduro teams around the world? Thats a shit load of bikes to sell. Thats also a shitload of YouTubers they can give stuff to and get more eyes on it. I know that Rocky bikes do well under Jesse, but I bet that guy could jump on a Santa Cruz, Trek or whatever and still crush.

I just don't see the ROI at all currently. It all feels so distant and other than WynTV, Moi Moi, and some POV's the content sucks and is pretentious.

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6/8/2022 7:26 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/8/2022 7:30 AM




Enduro world series 1992 did good enough coverage that when I see this I want to go ride. Isn't all they really need to do to be successful and keep selling bikes?


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6/8/2022 7:31 AM

I think some of the best coverage of the EWS was the "On Track" series with Curtis Keene from Redbull that they did for a few years. I know it wasn't racing coverage and was produced by RedBull to promote their sponsored athletes primarily. Still, I watched every episode and it gave a real insight into training, traveling, locations, personalities, etc.

If they (not sure who "they" is) could create race coverage on pair with the quality of On Track plus supplemental videos with interviews and B-role just like On Track, I think it would create really comprehensive and all-encompassing coverage of the sport.

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6/8/2022 8:52 AM

Here is my opinion which is worth what you are paying for it, $0.

The coverage is abysmal as they are doing it right now. Could they fix it? Absolutely, but it would take some effort and investment. Semi live to live coverage could be achieved via a small crew moving fixed point cameras to known points on stages and live feeds from helmet and bike cameras. Add in Carlson and maybe someone like Mosley interviewing at the end of the stages. This would require 30-40 fixed point cameras because they would need 2-3 stages pre set and then crews moving the cameras as stages complete. Would also probably require overhead coverage via drones for connectivity. Again not a minor investment, but with modern setups it is not prohibitively expensive either. Same with helmet/bike mounted cameras. Make this mandatory for all riders in the top 20/50 or whatever they deem appropriate. Now do a live show or near real time show followed up by a solid highlights reel.

Enduro is by far the most marketable and valuable MTB racing. The majority of riders are affluent and in prime buying age categories. It is also the most relatable in terms of how they ride and their desired lifestyle traveling the globe to exotic destinations. Thus far they just haven't been able to unlock the value because they don't have the right people in place to shape and drive it.

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6/8/2022 8:57 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/8/2022 9:00 AM

Sorry im late to party...Someone said earlier in here about enduro being more 'relatable' to the consumer (consumer being the content watcher) and this is the argument i've heard, over and over and over "they ride the bikes we are selling". But why must 'relatable' be a selling point, 2 examples of completely non-relatable (Rampage for bikes and Formula 1 for cars) are things mortals can not do and in Rampage's case-the most watched MTB event in the world, and Formula 1 with an extremely high view rate.

Even take world cup DH, I see the viewership numbers they are pretty staggering (and multiple times more viewership than american supercross and certainly more than american outdoor motocross) and DH isn't exactly 'relatable' or even the 'bikes we sell'.

I guess the point is, every story can be told in a way that resonates with an audience, EWS just hasn't done it, yet. For me? it's been a bit too touristy, a bit too "were just having fun" and too many espressos. Someone also mentioned the Keene Redbull series, I don't recall the viewership on that, it might have been shit, but, the stories and insight were good, it showed me it's a serious sport, not just a bunch of guys and girls wasting their own money or their sponsors money.

As for ROI...well, the company I represent has some investment via athletes in EWS, when they win-we lean into it, when they have a shit weekend, it sucks, but, at the end of the day it's always told via marketing/sales strategies as the product we make has DNA/ethos/whatever buzzword from the high octane racing of EWS and UCI World Cup DH and World Cup BMX and that feedback, development, testing with these riders does count for something, as you all know they do things to gear/equipment that us mortals can't do....I mean, I ate shit friday after work, but that's not enough hahaha.

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