WRC the future – Part 4 – the media




Last year we ran a series of articles about the World Rally Championship and how they can revive themselves to a place where they no longer be considered a niche sport.  We had a look at the cars, the stages and where the WRC stood in 2014.

We have waited on writing the final part of the series – the promotion – until 2015. We had visited WRC round in Monte Carlo, a European Championship Round in Austria and have seen many additions and innovations for the 2015 season.

We have seen updates to the WRC app, a more proactive approach to public relations by the promoter and a renewed vigour from the teams to promote themselves and social media. So where does this leave us – as fans and those interested in the sport for the current season and into the future.


The app (and WRCPlus)

He was an excellent innovation by the WRC to introduce the app in 2014. The app has allowed WRC fans to have both free and paid content to allow them to follow the current rallies and rallies of the recent past both live and on demand. The live television stages can see on TV and city centre stages brings rallying closer to the fans.  Suddenly the sport has become far more accessible to those following the sport that has been in the recent past.

Many fans also now have easy access to television and also live radio throughout the event. While the radio has existed for a number of years it is now far more accessible given that those with a smart phone or tablet can access the app rather than website which decreases the steps a user has to make to access the sport.

What has also made the TV and radio are the presenters. Undoubtedly, Colin Clark is one of the best in the business right up there with the radio Le Mans guys for knowledge of the sport and entertainment.  The drivers trust him implicitly and open up to him in ways that they don’t with any other presenter in the championship.  Becs Williams works brilliantly with Colin and the other WRC radio team to make sure that the listening gets the best of everyone.

Equally the TV team has improved dramatically in 2015 with a 30 minute daily highlights and the live stages improving becoming a must see event for any rally fan.

The on-boards and live maps available on the app are an excellent addition for anyone who wants to see the drivers in action and how the drivers can differ from each other all stop like timing, the stories and photos are all excellent.

But is the app everything could be? Should it be free? And what other aspects of the rallying world could be included?

I do believe the app will continue to develop and I would love to hear anyone suggestions on what I would like included in the app.  The price point is something that could be considered.

The ultimate aim should be to engage fans, both those watching the TV, those casual fans and those that do not know about the sport. Even the top tier sports – like AFL in Australia are looking at how they engage with their fans, evolving their online offerings to connect with their fans and keep them ‘engaged and immersed’ in the sport both at the game and at home.  This must be the goal for any sport – including the WRC.

We all know that these things don’t come for free though and WRC pockets a public not as deep as they once were and the bills have to be paid. Personally, I don’t have an issue with the app’s pay wall and would prefer to pay for something that is excellent and get something that is average that is free. The key will be to continually innovate and update. To provide new and interesting camera angles to encourage people to pay for the live feed. To offer new and engaging content on the app  that is what was group Bo longer take a view that it once was Group B and even with the increased manufacture interest coming to 2017, we can’t even pretend like its year 2000 and so we have to be realistic with our expectations  and strategies to engage and keep fans.



Social media and traditional media

The WRC placing a lot of their eggs in social media basket which is a sensible move considering the decreased traditional media attention which has affected everything in motorsport outside Formula One. The overall numbers of fans continue to be significantly lower them some motorsports but particularly other sports like golf or even tennis. It only takes a simple search to realise that Sebastian Ogier has 67500 Twitter followers where Rafael Nadal as more than 7.63 million.  Maybe more surprisingly that Nadal has twice that of Valentino Rossi who comes in 3.27 million.

If Twitter existed in 1995, would Colin McRae have lagged that far behind Pete Sampras?

But overall numbers don’t tell the story. For the WRC has is an incredibly engaged audience that follow, tweet, retweet and really get involved. Like the listeners of Midweek Motorsport, when there is a rally going on when Total Rally live is on air the engagement rate of the fans is very high.

One only has to look at the success of the M-Sport team with the #TiTanak rebuild following Ott Tanak’s crash at Rally Mexico.  In a way the WRC as something that no other motorsport does and in a way the job is half done for them but it’s never truly acted upon. WRC is an adventure has different backdrops every day, it has wild scenery, it has jumps, it has made cars and has fun drivers.


The photographers of the WRC are amongst the best in the world. The McKlein agency has been showing how good and has spectacular the WRC as the years. The books are collectors items much sought after and after the go out of print they go up rapidly in price the future wish solid with photographers like Andre Lavadinho on the scene.  But somehow the TV misses the action and we don’t see the spectacular photos and a lot of magazines or newspapers.  Perhaps it goes back to the cars and the need for them to be more spectacular all more sideways.  The manufacturers may need to activate their investment more and spend less to make the investment worthwhile. Even if you are winning just spending €100 million and only getting €20 million in return what is the point?

The lure of TV for WRC has gone and should not find any geo-block the app for any sort of TV deal. The sport was the X-Games before the X-Games were thought of and it needs to return to that mentality. Spectating at the WRC should be an adventure and watching the TV should show you parts of the world they may never see in any tourist brochure.  The pictures need to be spectacular and the experience needs to be spectacular and with that a return of mainstream media interest may follow.


In any case social media is probably the chance for the WRC to return to its glory days, to engage with fans and to lower those new to motorsport to its shores.  It needs to take advantage of Formula One whether failing and we know with Formula One there are many failures.  It is where significant investment needs to happen as you can’t have your defending champion with a few million fewer followers than that of the sport where they just hit a ball.

It will take time and it will take an investment from the organisers.  Fortunately much of the rot that we saw a few years ago when the promoter fell over and we sort ridiculously short rallies is in the past and the future looks a little brighter. It certainly won’t be quick fix and we need milestones along the way but it is important to note  that the WRC is on the best path that has been for almost 15 years.


We hope you enjoyed our look at the WRC allotted leave comments thoughts and feedback in the comments below or on social media.

By Sam Tickell,  March 2015

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