AmericaOne's struggle to beat Prada and challenge Team New Zealand for yachting's America's Cup has the firm backing of rival United States challenges with an eye now on sponsorship and television ratings.
AmericaOne’s struggle to beat Prada and challenge Team New Zealand for yachting’s America’s Cup has the firm backing of rival United States challenges with an eye now on sponsorship and television ratings.
Sports television channel ESPN have also admitted they want AmericaOne to challenge for the Auld Mug, though executive producer Geoff Mason said that was only partly because of the need to secure viewers. Team Dennis Conner are watching the television ratings closely, as that will impact on their ability to raise sponsorship for another Stars & Stripes challenge.
The best of nine series is level 3-3 after six races, with yesterday’s seventh race postponed due to a lack of wind. ESPN executive producer Geoff Mason, who is in New Zealand for the cup, said he had no up-to-date ratings figures, but he confessed to wanting an American win. “We’re obviously not as objective as we should be, we want a US boat,” he said today. “It’s for ratings, but it’s also because we like the old red white and blue.”
In the United States the Louis Vuitton Cup is not being screened live, and replays are shown late in the evening on the west coast and in the early hours of the morning on the east coast. The America’s Cup match is expected to be screened live on ESPN, the satellite sports channel for the American Broadcasting Corporation.
Conner’s operations manager, and crewman, Bill Trenkle, said it was vital that AmericaOne chief executive and skipper Paul Cayard got his boat into the final against New Zealand. He said good viewer numbers on US television translated into better sponsorship opportunities. “That’s what really is going to make a big difference for us this time, how well the TV is received. “Are the ratings going to be good, are people going to be enthusiastic about the America’s Cup like they were after Perth in ’87.” Trenkle said that would “absolutely” depend on AmericaOne reaching the match. “If they don’t make it in, the ratings are going to go down the drain in the United States. It’s going to be hard for us, it’s going to be great for Italy.”
Trenkle said he doubted a Prada success would spread throughout Europe, with cup racing nationalistic. Trenkle said while there were plenty of United States corporations which could sign up to the America’s Cup, the small size of the New Zealand market, and the distance away, was a handicap as it reduced hospitality opportunities for sponsors. “We had Citizen just come down with 50 people, but in San Diego, they were coming out with groups of 2500 people.” “The amount of people they can expose to the event is knocked down so much it takes away so much value to them.”