Digital to the fore as Volvo Ocean Race switches focus for 2017-18 edition

The Volvo Ocean Race and its global distribution agency, production company Sunset+Vine, have unveiled the initial list of broadcast partners for the 2017-18 edition of the sailing event, with an emphasis on core countries featuring boats, stopovers and sailors in the race, and a shift towards digital coverage.

The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race commences in Alicante, Spain on October 22. Public-service broadcasters TVE (Spain), RTP (Portugal), NOS (Netherlands) and TV Brasil (Brazil); Sport Plus (France); and pay-television broadcasters SuperSport (South Africa), Fox Sports (Australia), Sky (New Zealand) and Sky Sports (UK) will cover the race programming throughout the nine months of the event.

Other broadcasters to have signed on in top markets include pay-television broadcaster J-Sport (Japan), Sport TV (Turkey), Irish-language free-to-air broadcaster TG4 (Ireland) and Modern Times Group’s TV3 Sport (Sweden).

On the digital side, Sunset+Vine has delivered partnerships for the race with online and mobile platforms such as (China), Twitter (global), Tencent (China), Aftonbladet Sport (Sweden), Samsung (Asia) and (USA) to bring the race’s content to smartphones, desktops and tablets.

The television programming will consist of a one-hour race preview, nine 30-minute leg summary shows and a one-hour race review in August 2018 for seven hours of coverage. 

In a move to cater for the growing taste for short-form, easily-viewed mobile content, the race has shifted its video focus from traditional television to online digital content with several types of outputs.

These include regular live streaming each month from the port stopovers to include 90-minute livestream coverage of the in-port races, leg starts and leg finishes; daily online update and analysis show from race headquarters; a weekly race highlight show and daily team updates including short and easily-accessible video content posted directly from the boats on social media and other shareable platforms.

Race organisers said the introduction of the Crew Communicator, a device that will allow the sailors to supply their own digital updates, including photos and short videos, direct from the oceans will have a big impact on what fans will see following a rule change from the race which had previously banned internet access to the teams in order to rule out any potential outside assistance from shore.

Jordi Neves, chief digital officer at the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “The new emphasis on digital content is a decision we made during the last cycle to provide raw and unfiltered content straight from the boats – to let the public and sports fans see what it’s like to sail around the world in some of the toughest possible conditions over 45,000 nautical miles.”