Growing motorcycle sport in Australia
By Todd Jarratt
Like it or not motocross and supercross, and every other form of motorcycle racing for that matter, in Australia are not mainstream sports. We do not receive widespread media attention, huge sponsorship endorsements or even appropriate television time, yet it is commonly stated (within our industry) that motocross is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world, and we know for sure it is one of the most dangerous. So, why is it that Australian motorcycle racing doesn’t receive the same amount of exposure as other sports?
The fact that motorcycling is not a team sport is a major factor in itself because there are less people affected by it when compared to sports such as football. Then you have the issue that it is not as easily relatable for the general population in comparison to series’ such as V8 Supercars. This is because the vast majority drive cars so they can share the experience and understanding. But when speaking to riders, whether it be long time retired professionals, weekend club veterans, current professionals or modern day bush riders, they all seem to ask the same question – “If people are still out riding, shops are still selling bikes, and manufactures are still producing motorcycles, where is the money and interest going?” I wish I had the answer.
Looking at the growth of our sport from an insider’s point of view, I know the MX Nationals media crew literally work around the clock behind the scenes designing new content, innovating conventional promotional channels and basically restructuring the wheel to try to grow the fan base and interaction for our series – their global reach in Facebook followers justifies this. The ultimate goal in my eyes is to engage the wider population and increase their awareness of our sport to make it prominent news. Traditional methods of advertisement such as radio, hard copy promotion and travelling signage are only a minute part of the marketing package nowadays due to the ever-expanding social media platform we are all apart of. Facebook and Instagram are not the only modes of connection though, as Snap Chat is also used to bring the racing action to fans – a pathway I believe is hugely beneficial for our sport. So in a nutshell, our sports’ growth is all about making coverage to consumers convenient and easily accessible, which is where live streaming comes in.
There is huge desire within the motorcycling industry to have events broadcast via television, but as previously mentioned with the small amount of power and interest toward motorcycling in Australia, we would be sitting up at 11:30pm on a Thursday night waiting for the racing to pop up on our screens. Who would be thrilled on that when the majority of the racing community need to be up at 6am to start work the following morning? Instead, streams such as My Sport Live and NRGTV make racing viewable live, as well as on demand whenever the consumer finds it convenient for them. They can watch the racing back over and over for free, and access it with only the touch of a button on all new smart phones, computers and laptops. So I guess you could say I’m a fan.
If we now turn our attention to Australian Supercross, one event in particular that has everyone talking is the AUS-X Open. AME Management has secured two of the biggest names in our sports history, and those two names also come under one of our sports greatest rivalries. Australia’s own Chad Reed and his long time rival James Stewart, have been confirmed to compete at All Phones Arena later this year as part of the multi promoted Australian Supercross Championship. Through bringing this long awaited and highly anticipated match up to Australian shores though, AME have exceeded their initial admission availability for the one round event and have now opened up a second night of racing. I believe this event and this type of supercross promotion is a huge step in the right direction for our sport and hopefully with the new format of the championship we can see it develop into something significant and long lasting.
So overall, considering the size of our Australian population relative to those countries hosting both the AMA Outdoors and MXGP, our crowd numbers are impressive, media reach is exceptional, and all that riders seem to want rectified now is the financial backing of themselves and their teams to ensure the longevity of our sport in the land down under.