The first two World Cup weekends of the season 2010/11 are over. We enjoyed beautiful winter landscapes in both Gällivare and Kuusamo. And the two host broadcasters SVT in Sweden and YLE in Finland did a tremendous job, both of them producing top quality Cross-Country pictures for all our sport fans at home.
We saw an unbeatable Marit Björgen - the queen from Vancouver seems to be almost invincible at the time being, but let’s see, the season has only just started and I know, other ladies will be in better shape later on in the season. The men’s competitions were much tighter and the battle has just started so we have a lot of excitement ahead of us.
At the same time, we have also now implemented our new marketing and sponsoring concept based on centralization of 80 % of commercial rights, which have allowed us to ‘clean up the picture’. The banners now have a higher value and the branding for the World Cup has, for the first time, a common visual identity and design. I know, we are headed in the right direction for Cross-Country.
The World Cup event in Kuusamo, the so-called three-day Ruka Triple, has never had more attention. TV market shares in Finland were permanently over 50 % and in the beginning of season, that’s a value to beat. The sport concept worked well and the ladies’ and men’s competitions were both well-received - many fans seemed to like it. But, of course, we will evaluate the event with all stakeholders and there are always some improvements to implement in the future.
Last year, I followed a presentation by Ola Fagerheim, TV Director from NRK, and he asked us the following question:
Why should TV viewers switch on TV in order to see Cross-Country?
So, let’s start by asking, who are the TV viewers? We thought they can be divided into three groups:
1) Cross-Country “Nuts”
2) Sport interested
3) Entertainment seekers
By far the biggest segment is that of the entertainment seekers. What do you think do the entertainment seekers expect? Typically they look for:
1) Heroes and Celebrities
2) Action and Drama
4) Tears and Emotions
Hmm, of course we have the target to grow the sport and to find new fans and friends. The Cross-Country “Nuts” are our hardcore fans and our most involved fans as well, but if we are able to reach even the next audience, the ‘sport interested’ viewers, Cross-Country will be even stronger and have more fans.
In the past few days, I could see in many webcams and weather reports that winter arrived in many countries and the atmosphere for winter sports is there. I know, we have almost 100 million Cross-Country skiers worldwide and I’m happy that we can now enjoy skiing in many areas by ourselves.