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The Word On...

Isle of Man Draws Big

According to a press release earlier this week, coverage of the 2016 Isle of Man TT reached an audience of nearly 30 million people worldwide last year. European markets accounted for 51 percent of the total audience, and almost three million people viewed the race in the U.S. The press release said that the race was referenced in more than 15,000 articles published last year, a 28 percent increase from 2015. Here’s some more numbers provided by Kantar Media, an industry leader in broadcast viewer measurement.

Over 339 hours of dedicated TT coverage of 2016’s event was shown in 83 countries and was featured by leading broadcasters including Fox Sports in Australia, Sky Sports (New Zealand), Supersport in Africa, ITV4 in the UK, Eurosport and the Discovery Velocity Channel in the USA.

Official Isle of Man TT website and social media operator Duke Marketing reported another successful year that saw a relaunch of the site optimized for mobile use, increases in followers on twitter and facebook and a big jump in viewing figures for the Official YouTube channel. Future growth of the site will now focus on growing audience engagement through interactive content and a stronger brand identity throughout the various channels.

Over 8 million views—totaling 21 million minutes—were recorded on the official Isle of Man TT YouTube channel through 2016, with one onboard video of Michael Dunlop’s record breaking Superbike lap being viewed 1.6 million times alone. 2016 also saw the number of subscribers to the channel increase to 95,000.

The TT’s official Facebook page remained the strongest social media channel and added over 200,000 ‘likes’ by the end of 2016, 23% up on 2015 at 718,000. Twitter proved a strong communication channel for the event’s fans, with over 95,000 followers recording 15.2million impressions for June alone. Instagram, a new addition in 2015, was another strong performer, with over 51,000 followers by the end of 2016.

Manx Radio TT’s service, which is available on-line worldwide via the iomtt.com website as well as via Manx Radio aps, had over 350,000 unique connections during TT Race fortnight listening to live radio commentary in addition to the on-island radio broadcast audience.

Over 102,000 unique users accessed the TT’s live timing service during race fortnight in 2016 with a 58% increase in the average duration of the visit. A peak audience of 32,867 was recorded during the RST Superbike race on Saturday 4th June.

The British Isles remains the leading market for online media coverage (articles) with the USA overtaking Sweden as the second highest country, while the growing in interest in India was reflected in 255 monitored articles, which moved it into the top ten list of countries by coverage for the first time.


Bruce McLaren Doc Coming Soon

Universal Pictures have released the first trailer for McLaren, their upcoming documentary directed by Roger Donaldson on the life of Bruce McLaren. Before his untimely death in 1970 at just 32 years old, McLaren built an incredible resume in motorsports. In 1959, he became the youngest grand prix winner (at that time), when at 22 he won the United States Grand Prix. During his career, he also won the Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a host of Can-Am races. The film, which looks fantastic, is expected to be released later this year.


Robots In Journalism

You may not be aware, but you’ve probably read an article written by a robot. Last year, the Washington Post debuted Heliograf , an artificial intelligence technology used to report from the 2016 Rio Olympics, and in politics. The Post argues that it helps grow its audience by targeting small niche audiences—for example, the race for Iowa 4th. “It’s the Bezos concept of the Everything Store,” Shailesh Prakash, CIO and VP of digital product development at the Post, told Wired. “But growing is where you need a machine to help you, because we can’t have that many humans. We’d go bankrupt.” The Post continues to stress that the system is not going to replace human reporters, but brings more efficiency to the newsroom. Here’s how it works, according to Wired:

Editors create narrative templates for the stories, including key phrases that account for a variety of potential outcomes (from “Republicans retained control of the House” to “Democrats regained control of the House”), and then they hook Heliograf up to any source of structured data—in the case of the election, the data clearinghouse VoteSmart.org. The Heliograf software identifies the relevant data, matches it with the corresponding phrases in the template, merges them, and then publishes different versions across different platforms. The system can also alert reporters via Slack of any anomalies it finds in the data—for instance, wider margins than predicted—so they can investigate. “It’s just one more way to get a tip” on a potential scoop, Gilbert says.

You can read the entire story here. It was written by a human—we think.


Robots are Coming

This particular robot built by Boston Dynamics is 6’5", travels at nine mph, and jumps four​ ​feet high. It will soon be replacing humans in the NBA (kidding on the last part—for now).


FI Can Learn from MotoGP

Last year was an amazing year for racing in MotoGP. Nine riders won races, four manufactures earned wins, and eight consecutive races saw eight different winners, per Motorsport Magazine. Truly amazing. In a recent article, Max Oxley credits Dorna, the promoters of MotoGP, for forcing changes upon manufactures for the rise in close, competitive racing. “Dorna has done an amazing job. They have managed to wrestle back control by bullying and fighting with the factories over years and years to try and reduce costs, make the grid tighter and to encourage new manufacturers to join with the unified software. The racing is fantastic at the moment, and that’s largely because of what they’ve done.” The article is really interesting, and even looks at how Formula One could make similar changes.

Mark Hughes weighed up the feasibility of making similar revisions in F1.

“You could certainly make a good case for reducing the aero. It isn’t relevant anywhere outside of F1 and it doesn’t do anything in particular for the racing. If it were more about drag reduction than downforce generation, then it would have more relevance to the road car industry, through reduced fuel consumption and the likes. 

“It would need an entire culture change though, all the way through root and branch of the sport. I guess then it would make F1 nervous about being compared to IndyCar too, which would de facto become massively faster”.

Like MotoGP’s adoption of unified software last season, interest in standardisation has increasingly been voiced in the F1 paddock too. In particular, interest surrounds standardising parts less visible to fans or those that do not add to the sport’s spectacle, such as suspension units.

Speaking to Motor Sport in 2016, former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemelo recognised the merits of this.

“We are in a very delicate situation with F1 at the moment but, despite that, it still has big, big potential if it is managed correctly.”

Read the full article here.


Indian Electric

A senior executive for Polaris Industries Inc. told Reuters this week that they plan to launch an electric bike under the Indian brand in the next four to five years. Indian joins rival manufacturer Harley-Davidson in hoping to launch an electric bike in the near future. In 2014, Harley unveiled its prototype battery-powered motorcycle, LiveWire. Indian says that the new motorcycle is expected to cover 120-140 miles in one charge. Earlier this year Polaris shut down Victory motorcycles, which also included its Empulse electric bike. Per Reuters, Victory lost more than  $100 million over the past 18 years. More from Reuters.

"The characteristics of the (new) powertrain are going to be more applicable to be able to ride a bike in pleasure and twisties, and kind of how you would use pleasure bikes today," said Menneto.

Polaris and larger rival Harley-Davidson Inc are increasingly targeting price-conscious millennials as demand skids for big bikes in the United States, where the core customer group of baby boomers is aging.

Polaris would also expand the product line of the Indian brand to include bikes with smaller cylinder capacities, Menneto said.

He expects the company's revenue from its motorcycle business to grow to $1 billion in the next five years from $708.5 million last year.


Don’t Mess with Tigers, Man


Nintendo Not Happy with Real Life Mario Kart

MariCar (sounds pretty similar to Mario Kart) is a company in Tokyo that allows people to rent go-carts and Mario costumes for Mario Kart-inspired tours around the city. Sounds like a fantastically cool idea. Until Nintendo finds outs. Per the AV Club, Nintendo is suing MariCar for copyright infringement. Per the report, “There’s no word on MariCar’s current status or how much money Nintendo wants, just that the game-maker is seeking compensation for unfair competition and copyright infringement.”


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