Wednesday, June 10, 2015

BattleFrog on TV.....Here We Go Again!

Well, to be fair, it wasn't BattleFrog on TV the last time I saw obstacle course racing (OCR) there.  That was Spartan Race and their first attempt to break into the TV market [Obstacle Course Racing on TV...well, it's a start!] Naturally, I was very curious to see what the results would be last night.  OCR has been increasing in popularity exponentially since I started with it in 2011.  However, translating this into a following off the course has been even more of a challenge.

BattleFrog is definitely on the right path with this format!  Brings to mind American Ninja Warrior meets dirt and mud.  One of the biggest problems with covering a typical 5k, 8k or longer race is that it's so spread out that the expense of following the race in total is just not feasible.  So what you're left with is snapshots (or is it snap-videos?) of the race.  And mixing in "human interest" snippets in between just bored me to death...personally.

So going with this ultra-short course allows you to see the entire race.  It also allows for closer races and a chance for comebacks (read: U Miami!....sorry, shameless plug) which many longer races don't have.  

This also begs the question...where exactly is BattleFrog going with this ultra-short course concept?  My guess is that they're not really looking to create a new distance for their race series.  Most likely it's a means of creating interest in the sport...and particularly in watching it!  As a proof-of-concept event, it also opens up the possibility of a longer short-course for future events.  That's  what I would personally love to see!

A longer short-course would be more in line with the general concept of the OCR races in general (a course layout I've been working on myself for some time now).  Bringing endurance back into the picture as well as being a much better lead-in to the real BattleFrog series of races, while still allowing for the same type of total race coverage you need to keep viewer attention.  Interestingly enough, this style of race reminds me of what Hobie Call and the short-lived Extreme Nation were trying to put together a couple of years back.  Maybe his idea was just a bit ahead of it's time.

The real genius though in this event was not just the ultra-short format, but the choice of racers.  College teams!  Even people who don't watch sports in general will root for their college in just about anything.  I mean some serious rooting here!  Some of the greatest viral vidoes are from rabid college football fans when their teams lose.  I've already given away that I'm a U-Miami alum and I know I'll be watching if it involves a chance for them to win...anything!  Put on full-contact debate squad and I'm in.

So...I will be watching the rest of this race series...even if Miami doesn't make it through.  I think we've seen the first real successful OCR event on TV.  And I suspect we'll see much more of this as BattleFrog builds on this success...but also as other OCR race series take notice and come up with their own TV friendly concepts.

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