While the teams competing in the America’s Cup might be forbidden from saying anything that might tarnish the reputation of the ‘oldest trophy in sport‘, publicly available figures that allow comparison of online performance suggest that the new interpretation of the Cup might not be hitting the mark – yet.
The following article looks at Facebook numbers for the Volvo Ocean Race versus the America’s Cup. It should not be extrapolated to indicating the popularity of either property in the wider world. However – all things being equal, and with a sample size of around 5 billion, it is an interesting comparison!
Both events feature teams from Spain, France, the USA and China. Despite the 150 year history of the America’s Cup, the current product is a start-up, while the Volvo Ocean Race is now well understood by organisers, teams and fans alike.
At the time of writing, the America’s Cup has staged 3 World Series Events, while the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race has completed the first leg from Alicante to Cape-Town.
The America’s Cup has repeated over and over again that they understand what the ‘Facebook Generation’ want. They are investing in a format that is a big departure from the Americas’s Cup of the past, however at face value – the Volvo Ocean Race is giving the America’s Cup a lesson in how to engage the Facebook generation.
In November, the America’s Cup World Series circus rolled into San Diego. It was the first ‘America’s Cup’ event in the USA since 1995 and it translated into an extra 12,700 likes on the Official America’s Cup Facebook page - a 44% increase on the month before. But in the same month, the Volvo Ocean Race increased the likes on their page by over 15,000 and the round the world race is also more engaging with it’s content than the Cup.
The San Diego event was also a ‘home-game’ for Defender Oracle Racing. Team USA found 811 new fans for their Facebook page in San Diego – though to be fair, a large percentage of their existing ‘likes’ came from when the team was based in San Diego before the last Cup.
Oracle Racing is not the biggest sailing team on Facebook though. French Volvo Ocean Race Team Cammas Groupama attracted nearly 7,000 Facebook likes in November, making it the 2nd most ‘liked’ team in sailing after Oman Sail.
Cammas Groupama is also doing a better job of being engaging with their Facebook audience.
In fact most of the Volvo Ocean Race Teams do a better job of engaging with the Facebook generation than their America’s Cup counterparts.
Perhaps the most interesting comparison is between the two Team New Zealands. While the Cup team currently has more ‘likes’ it is only growing at 9.5% while the Volvo Team is grew in November by 58%. At the moment, the offshore reporting from CAMPER, perhaps combined with a Spanish interest, is proving more engaging than the AC45 team’s adventures at the top of the America’s Cup World Series leader-board.
What’s even worse for the America’s Cup is that it is now going into a period of hibernation for the winter and if teams can’t engage their audience when they are racing, they are going t0 have a hard time keeping people’s interest when there is nothing happening.
The organisation will keep pumping out the samey America’s Cup Uncovered programs, but its hard to see how the Cup will keep its momentum going and attract new audiences. On the other hand, the Volvo Ocean Race has another 8 months of activity to keep its fans happy.
So what? Big Deal? It’s not all about Facebook! Perhaps. Give the evidence the weight it deserves. Extrapolate as you see fit. It’s not the Consumer Price Index or Nielsen Ratings, but there is a lot of money being invested in sentiment analysis at the moment, and a large part of that is being driven by online chatter including Facebook.
We think it is quite telling.