The Collins Cup’s broadcast success paves the way for more flagship events to grow the world of professional triathlon.
The PTO recently revealed that the inaugural Collins Cup gained five times the viewing figures of the PTO 2020 Championship – courting an audience close to seven million – to set the stage for more awesome pro triathlon racing action.
Sports, sponsorship and entertainment research company YouGov Sport reported this figure was made up of almost 1,000 hours of live and on-demand broadcast footage in over 165 countries and 22 languages. That’s a reach of 400 million households all around the planet including the boon of securing live, localised coverage on Eurosport as well as deals with broadcasters around the world.
On top of that, the Collins Cup app was downloaded 35,000 times while the Collins Cup website and ‘second data screen’ had over 200k users on race day. That impressive number alone hints at the engagement of triathlon superfans seeking up-to-the-moment stats on the world’s best athletes from Team Europe, Team US and Team Internationals.
Shoulder programming including the two-part Beyond Human documentary, which was recently nominated for a Broadcast Sport Award, notched up another three million viewers.
What Does It Mean For Triathlon?
The Collins Cup’s viewing figures are a great indication of the PTO’s progression towards professionalising triathlon by growing it beyond the triathlon-geek aundeince. As the reach of the sport increases, so does its value for broadcasters and advertisers – in turn increasing the worth of the pro athletes themselves.
This is all great news for triathlon fans – not only because we get to watch the coverage and witness some epic racing action but because we’re in for more of it as the PTO expands its events series.
Speaking on a recent episode of the Fitter Radio podcast, PTO CEO, Sam Renouf, re-stated upcoming plans for pro-am racing and perhaps even more tantalisingly for pro racing fans, the PTO’s series of ‘majors’ events.
The Olympic distance pro-am (professional-amateur events) will kick off at the LA Triathlon next May. “[It] will really be an entertainment product,” said Renouf. “This is about getting triathlon in front of people that don’t necessarily understand triathlon at the moment and bring more people into the sport.”
Meanwhile, just like the Collins Cup, the majors will take their lead from golf. “The majors will be multisport festivals that will take place over three or four days on a permanent basis,” said Renouf. “So we’re aiming to have USA, maybe even two in North America, one or two in Europe, one in Asia-Pacific that become the permanent locations that triathletes can get behind and it becomes the bucket list event for their region.”
If the majors begin to create their own stories of astounding athleticism, they could in time generate a similarly rich history, which, much like the magic of Kona, will be tied to distinct locations.
The majority of these events, which Renouf said will feature $1million prize purses, will be held over the same 100km distance as the Collins Cup. That’s a 2km swim, 80km bike and 18km run – a format Renouf hopes local race organisers will embrace.
“It’s a distance we think crowns the ultimate athlete because it’s a combination of speed and endurance… it’s short enough that these athletes can go incredibly fast,” he said.
But there also remains an appetite for an event that really tests athletes’ endurance. “We will have at least one of our majors over twice that distance, so we’re not moving away entirely from the long-distance element of the sport.”
The PTO is working to get one to two of the majors onto the 2022 calendar with a view to having a full line-up in 2023 of four to five majors plus the Collins Cup and pro-am events.
As the majors become established on racing and television schedules, the combination of big prize money and the exposure of the PTO’s now proven hype machine is sure to coax out triathlon’s best athletes.
That will deliver us more chances to see seriously stacked fields plucked from the upper echelons of triathlon battling it out – as well as giving up and coming athletes a platform to gain coverage.
The PTO’s 2022 and 2023 event calendars, then, could provide both the big step-up that pro triathlon deserves and the opportunity for tri fans to get wrapped up in the excitement of more top-class racing for years to come.