The media results announced today for the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 show a significant increase over the 2005-06 event.
In 2008-09, the race offered a varied diet for both traditional and adopted race followers as part of a committed strategy of multi-channel communication.
The Whitbread/Volvo has been at the forefront of technical innovation in media communication. In the 1997-98 race, the first videos and emails were transmitted from the on board media desk. The event's web site was the biggest single event sports site in the world.
In 2008-09, the race acknowledged the shift in the global media landscape and broadened its communications beyond the traditional medium of television and print.
A content-rich website in four languages (English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian), broadband TV, a dedicated, multilingual mobile channel and the phenomenal success of the race's online game, enabled audiences to interact as never before.
And with a foray into social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, the race entered millions of hearts and minds the world over.
The plethora of storylines that the Volvo Ocean race conjures up - human endeavour, technology and nature - are reflected in the extensive television, print, online, audio and mobile coverage generated throughout the cycle of the 2008-09 edition.
The addition on each Volvo Open 70 of a Media Crew Member (MCM), an 'embedded' reporter equipped with the latest technology in High Definition filming and satellite communication, has also proved highly successful.
The findings of an independent research programme, undertaken by IFM Sports Marketing Surveys, illustrate that a ground-breaking route, which took the fleet to new territories such as China and India, enabled the race to provide unrivalled global penetration for professional sailing.
Additional data and analysis from Google Analytics illustrates that the online package brought engagement with both hard-core sailing fans and those new to the sport.
Partnerships with Google Earth, YouTube and global online video distribution network The Newsmarket also broadened exposure to global audiences.
"As the media world evolves into a more online community, we have had great success with our online properties and new media areas, said CEO Knut Frostad. "Our official online properties had over 89 million visitors with over one million fans visiting more than 100 times and the official game was a run-away success with over 221,768 players from over 180 countries.
The cumulative broadcast audience was 1.3 billion. Over 3,300 hours of coverage was generated through 11,000 broadcasts in 46 different territories. Coverage was shown on 217 channels globally.
China led the way in new territories, by delivering an audience of 600 million, 45 per cent of the race total.
Programming and news, produced and distributed by Sunset+Vine/APP, reached Western, Central and Eastern Europe, North and South America, Africa and the Middle East, Central Asia, the Far East and the Pacific Rim. There was also coverage in countries as diverse as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Iran, Iraq, Latvia, Slovakia and South Korea.
"We are very happy with the numbers we have generated in the 2008-09 edition of the race," Frostad added. "Not only have we surpassed the previous race in media reach, but we have increased our value in new territories such as India and China."
Stories that chronicled the crews' ongoing battle against the forces of nature were featured in publications ranging from mass-circulation newspapers and lifestyle magazines to specialist titles with niche readerships.
The event generated 13,038 press cuttings in 15 monitored territories, providing a cumulative circulation of 606 million, a 104% increase on the previous race.
The combination of TV and print provided Volvo with a media value of US$116.5million, an increase of 34.6% over 2005-06, and a syndicate media value of US$279.4million, a rise of 52%.
Port stopovers attracted over 2,600 media accreditations from 47 countries and provided an unparalleled experiential programme for journalists. Additionally, 412 executive media guests hosted by teams and sponsors from 29 countries.
The Volvo is one of those rare sporting events which gives media privileged access to the stars of the show - the Volvo Open 70s and the sailors.
During the 2008-09 port stopovers, journalists were able to sail in in-port and pro-am racing and could participate in shorter legs and race starts.
Over 75 journalists received the money-can't-buy opportunity of sailing onboard a Volvo Open 70, during training, in-port and pro-am racing.
The story of life on board was told through the eyes of the Media Crew Member. The MCMs had a perfect vantage point to capture the trials and tribulations of the crews during the race, through the heavy Southern Ocean extremes to the gasping heat of the windless Doldrums.
Through their footage, photographs, audio and emails, race followers were given a unique insight into high-octane ocean racing. The media and stakeholders were able to source a wealth of material to use from the MCM, their man on the inside.
Both the work of the MCM and the delivery of HD TV programming benefited from the launch in 2008 of Inmarsat's FleetBroadband, manufactured by Thrane & Thrane, providing high-speed satellite connectivity across the world's oceans.
Audio partner, World Sports Communications, delivered daily news reports, interviews, features and weekly podcasts in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Radio reached a cumulative audience of 1,168,860,000 cumulative with 1,500 broadcasts on more than 80 stations in 16 countries
Through a partnership with global distribution agency onEdition, race imagery reached 5,000 picture desks around the world. There were more than 160,000 photo downloads from the Volvo Ocean Race image library with images actively distributed to 103 countries.