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Raking Up The Numbers

With some of the discussions on the ISGS session topics still resounding in my memory, I watched two video productions on the Wind Games. One produced as a "making of" in 2015, the other as an "international" highlight on this year's edition for the Spanish sports channel Teledeporte... The experience led to this article.

Cathy Bouette at Skydive Empuriabrava

After watching the "Making of The Wind Games 2015," the powerful 6-minute piece on the second edition, I had the opportunity to look at an "international" highlight on the Wind Games 2020, or edition seven, that aired (and streamed) on Teledeporte, the sports channel owned by public broadcaster RTVE, yesterday.

Teledeporte registers hardly ever huge audiences, reaching occasional tops of a 0.5% share and 50,000 watching at the best of times. And during the Summer Olympics! Not much raking to be done there at all ...

The 13-minute program under the "Other Sports" flag did not do much for this viewer. It even seems to contrast strongly with some of the glorious productions made on Wind Games competition over the years. If it was supposed to be storytelling on the Wind Games, then much of it got lost in translation. IMO! Watch it here!

We have been told time and again that moving images of indoor skydiving are “performing well” in terms of reaching audiences and retaining their attention. Anne Maxwell, the woman behind the Wind Games, made the point once more during one of the Indoor Skydiving 2020 sessions, providing figures for the number of views on clips gone viral in the past – and for the size of online audiences during the 2020 webcasts.

One cannot get obsessed with elusive targets for (social) media exposure. Impossible to have one or more clips go viral every year, simply because many have already done so in the past. If the webcasts do have audiences in the hundreds of thousands, they are already outperforming certain Olympic sports. The best news story is not always the one taken up the most - or that makes the top ten of the news exchange - but the one that marks a difference. And not just as a convenient playing ball for the weather and the sports guys to do a back-and-forth at the end of a newscast.

Maybe a little more thought should be given to the overall scope of webcasting competitive events. That it is relatively easy to produce dramatic imagery does not imply that huge quantities must be pitched as quintessential coverage. Maybe a distinction should be made between what is produced for the purpose of the contest itself - i.e. the footage that is used for judging the performances - and the most epic moments, produced with all the hype that can be mustered. That these moments cannot span over hours and hours should go without saying.

The next event coming up is the Twinwoods Adventure World Challenge (cum Brit Nationals) in early April. It will lead into 2020 World Cup and the European Championships in Charleroi, BEL, only a few days later. With nearly 400 entries made to date, these could well be the "Mother of all Indoor Skydiving Competitions."


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