The start of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season has seen a number of changes to the sport aimed at creating parity amongst riders and attracting younger fans. Fans at the sport’s first race of the 2018 season, Anaheim 1, not only saw changes to the start gate, but a more competitive outcome with the launch of a revised points system.
“The more parity we have, which is what we’re aiming for, the more people who are interested in the sport. The field is so deep this year and with these changes making things more equal, we’re going to get a lot more interest overall,” Feld Entertainment’s director of Supercross, Dave Prater, told THE HUFFINGTON POST.
Coming into the 2018 season, Supercross is riding a wave of success in terms of viewership and event attendance. 2017 viewership of the motorcycle racing series was up 9-percent year-over-year and average event attendance increased by 3,000 to 4,000 fans per race. Now, Supercross not only seeks to sustain that success, but grow it.
To do this, Supercross is turning largely to experiential marketing focused on members of Generation Z.
“The goal is to keep fans engaged the entire time they are at a Monster Energy Supercross event. We have made a lot of changes to the Supercross racing format this season and added interactive experiences to our pit party. Fans will also find added graphics in-stadium in hopes to better keep them informed on the race throughout the night,” Prater explained.
In terms of experiences, Supercross’s offerings to young fans range from grassroots experiences to technological advances. During the Monster Energy Pit Party—a pre-race fan festival—fans can learn how to ride motorcycles in both actual and virtual reality.
“Our pit area features smaller, more fuel efficient motorcycles with the goal of getting more people on bikes. The more people we can get on motorcycles, the more likely they’re going to become Supercross fans,” Prater said.
For Supercross, members of Generation Z present an important segment to focus on to increase the sport’s growth. According to Supercross, 18-percent of its attendees are between the ages of 18 to 24-years-old, with 57-percent of all attendees having children between the ages of two and 17-years-old.
To further attract the generation, Supercross has become bullish on creating a robust digital media presence.
Prater notes that the sport is in the midst of a “huge social push,” which is geared not only at members of Generation Z, but also women and members of the Hispanic fan base. Supercross launched a social media campaign in partnership with Toyota, “Makeup 2 Mud,” that focuses, “on women who ride from all walks of life” to expand its number of female fans, which currently account for 35-percent of its fan base. To attract a great number of Hispanic fans, Supercross is working with Fox Deportes on broadcast and digital content.
“Our social media growth has been tremendous over the last year. We have increased our number of followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by 1 million since January 1, 2017. Our Race Day Live streaming broadcast was watched by 283,000 on January 6 during the 2018 season opener from Anaheim, an increase of 30-percent from last year’s round,” Prater said.
While numbers across social, broadcast and attendance are on the rise for Supercross, time will tell whether changes to the sport’s scoring will not only maintain, but grow, its fan base.