For experience, there are few niche events that beat the PBR and the ING New York City Marathon. However both have always had trouble growing their platform outside the event and into a global experience in a crowded fall landscape. As the PBR conducts its Championship at a sold out Thomas and Mack Center this weekend, they battle the NFL, college football, end of NASCAR, MLS Playoffs and the World Series for position, not to mention high school sports and other activities. Next weekend, the Marathon, easily not just the best one day spectacle bit one of the biggest revenue generators for sport for New York, will have a similar battle to gain interest outside of the millions in the New York area and race-specific fans around the world (it is not televised live outside of New York).
So as an answer to that problem, both properties are going all in on the digital side. The Marathon has launched an app this week that will not just give people the ability to follow anyone on the course, it will also give partner brands like Dunkin Donuts the chance to activate with promotions at all their spots along the route, as well as provide fitness tips to anyone looking to improve their own health and well being. Want to follow celebrities like Christy Turlington or Apollo Ohno? Their is a place on the app for that. Brands will also be able to capture data and engage with followers not just in New York, but from wherever they are following along around the world, so the potential for ING to ping and promote to customers who they know are brand loyal and interested in healthy activities brings even more added value. It is not the same as live national TV, but it is a great next step in brand engagement for an event that grows in stature every year and can really morph into an event and experience that lives well beyond the five boroughs of New York.
The PBR is a little different. The circuit has continued to make great strides in embracing and growing its core followers, those who fill arenas year round watching the bulls and riders battle it out. They have made some strides in expanding into popular culture, but now will take the next step in lifting that experience from just the arena into the digital space like never before. PBR is a natural for casual gaming expansion, and the relative speed of the rides makes it perfect for a male audience that wants things quick and exciting. By pushing the emphasis to more of a digital play, the PBR can enhance their TV partnerships and really give their loyal partner brands the chance to engage not just at events, but in instant online contests and rewards programs like never before. Like the Marathon, millions of fans of the sport won’t be at the events in Vegas. However they now have a better, richer online experience to stay engaged and involved, and one which can compliment the live television broadcast from wherever they are as fans on a busy fall weekend. Mobile changes the perameters of that engagement for the active, and now the PBR has a better way to engage those fast-moving fans.
Neither app will ever replace the live event for the Marathon or the PBR, but growing that footprint is key, and be spending time effort and dollars to engage in the mobile space, both organizations can take a broad step forward for those who choose to follow, as well as for the brands or choose to grow with them.