|British Superbikes will be covered by the Sun online in 2013
Today, the British Superbike Championship have announced a national media deal with The Sun which would see exclusive coverage of BSB on the Sun’s website. The announcement sparked mass debate amongst fans on Twitter about the morality of a partnership with a company such as The Sun that has a questionable reputation in terms of ethics. PaddockChatter thinks the deal is predominantly a good deal for BSB, teams, riders and even fans and this blog will attempt to justify this.
The Sun could well be labelled immoral, it had involvement in the phone hacking scandal, has been brought up many times for discrimination and was a key part of the Hillsborough cover-up in which the real reasons for the deaths of 96 innocent Liverpool fans were hidden for many years. This led to wide support of “Don’t buy The Sun” campaigns and it appears to be for this reason that some BSB fans on Twitter are opposed to the new partnership, as they are keen to promote a boycott of The Sun.
There is no question that The Sun has engaged in questionable practices and it would be foolish trying to argue against or justify that. However, in many ways this deal is a good deal for British Superbikes. The Sun is the most distributed newspaper in the United Kingdom, in January 2013, 2.5 million copies of the Sun were sold every day. Whilst the BSB deal is not with the print edition, the Sun’s website took 1.8 million unique hits per day in December 2012. Compare this with the Daily Mirror who had previously had a deal with British Superbikes, whose website in the same period took only 850k hits per day, a million less than the Sun’s.
British Superbikes, who have 45k “Likes” on Facebook and are nearing 27k “followers” on Twitter. There are obviously fans who don’t use these platforms. In 2011 the maximum attendance at a BSB weekend was 55k and the minimum was 22k with a total attendance over the year at 418k. 2011 TV figures ranged from 100k to 600k. These figures show BSB in a relatively healthy state and MSVR claim TV figures grow by 18% each year and on-site attendance grows by 8.6% each year. Although, just because BSB’s figures are quite healthy does not mean the series organisers should not aim higher. The Sun’s online readership is evidently enormous, therefore if The Sun gives BSB good exposure, BSB will find itself with a larger increase in fans. This increase could only be a good thing, no?
As in many other domains, there is a huge financial problem within motorcycle racing and whilst British Superbikes might be doing OK for MSVR, there’s still a huge problem for the teams and riders in the form of a serious lack of sponsors. Contrary to what some might say, MSVR do a lot of work to help teams and ensure bikes and riders can be on the grid – however they also have to find the funds to run and promote the BSB weekends to ensure the money keeps coming in – they don’t have an endless pit of money. This deal with the Sun exposes BSB to a whole new audience, a new audience that potentially already enjoy motorsport (why else would they be reading the motorsports section of The Sun’s website?) Therefore this new audience provides exposure for BSB, the teams and the riders which means an increased chance of sponsorship. Sponsorship could also be increased, for the teams, riders and BSB as having a picture of a bike, or leathers or whatever with their logo on it on an article on the Sun’s website is an attractive business prospect. This could work wonders for some of the smaller teams in BSB who don’t get all that much exposure, yet could find themselves with decent exposure on the Sun’s website through a few good results. It’s not an entirely fool-proof method and there’s no guarantee it will work – it’s business, nothing is certain but there’s a bloody good chance.
Compare BSB with World Superbikes, that at least in Britain, has little to no exposure in forums outside of the racing world. And people were wondering why it’s looking increasingly likely there won’t be a round at Silverstone this year? World Superbikes has a massive marketing issue and, at least in Britain is being trounced by the British series who even managed to successfully pull off a round in the central-European back yard of WSBK, Assen.
Despite The Sun being quite a morally questionable company, in difficult financial times you cannot afford to be picky, the benefits this deal could bring to BSB are huge and perhaps even outweigh the benefits that the branch of Murdoch’s empire get from the deal. BSB organisers have quite clearly bitten the bullet and taken one for the team, the team being BSB and PaddockChatter implores fans to do the same. If you don’t like The Sun, don’t read it. Nobody is saying this deal means all BSB fans must read The Sun and there will be no BSB coverage elsewhere (PaddockChatter would be a bit redundant if that was the case…) The Sun’s coverage isn’t even aimed at the average BSB fan, it’s aimed at people who could become BSB fans and this is what is brilliant about this deal.