It's fair to say that any visit to the extreme.com website pre-2010, would have left you feeling a little disappointed. For some time, Extreme's online presence has not quite lived up to it's more established TV heritage and has failed to make much of an impact. It had failed to successfully branch out into more dynamic media content, such as live event streaming and high quality user submitted videos with a sense of community. This was being dominated by the kings of events rights and live streaming, Freecaster.TV and the community based video content and publishing giants, Factory Media's own Mpora.TV.
So, it is hardly surprising that, in a world of business collaboration, consolidation and survival Extreme has got real and got with the programme by turning to Freecaster.TV to cut a deal. And what a deal this would seem to be. Bring together the company who in traditional TV media terms, owns the extreme and action sports space around the world. Introduce them to the guys who have more live streaming rights than anyone else, events such as the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and World Championships, the FIM Motocross World Championships, the Red Bull X Fighters, the BMX World Championships and the X Games. Now you have the company Extreme could, no should have become.
“This new partnership between two of the biggest players in action sports means that Extreme.com powered by Freecaster.tv is now the home of adrenaline sports on the web”, says Tim MacMullen, Extreme Sports Channel Manager. “We’re very excited to be working with Freecaster.tv to thrill sports fans old and new with live streaming of the world’s biggest events and the finest action sports videos on demand. Combine this with Extreme Sports Channel’s entertaining and action-packed schedule and it means that wherever fans are, they’re now only a mouse click or remote button away from the sports they love.”
Home of adrenalin sports on the web? Maybe, maybe not. Extreme's previous Alexa ranking was pretty poor given their reputation and brand positioning (268,853), and Freecaster was considerably higher (40,909). By contrast, Mpora.TV in their own right ranked significantly higher than Freecaster (21,484) and Fuel.TV comparable (54,675). So is this enough to warrant such a bold claim? True, it makes this alliance as strong a content provider and online advertiser as Mpora.TV, but to say that the alliance is immediately transformative and competition battering would be overly eager in my view.
When you consider that such single sport specific sites, such as surfline.com (Alexa 6,447), MTBr.com (Alexa 10,587) and Future Publishing's Bike Radar (Alexa 13,694) significantly outrank these video content sites, I think the true home of adrenalin sports on the web, is the web itself. It is our way of finding the right content in the right place at the right time that empowers the consumer to locate what they want when they want it. Not from one site, but from all the sites that do a great job in providing the video, audio and written content available (forgetting the myriad of sites who also do a really bad job). Freecaster, Extreme, Mpora and all the rest are big pieces of this puzzle, but are way off being the whole jigsaw.
There was some minor buzz about this and talk about a website relaunch. When it came about, sigh, the reality was a Freecaster website on both freecaster.com and extreme.com domains, with a different logo that conveyed the partnership. Whoopee. Maybe there are plans afoot to work on this, but to be honest, it is fairly irrelevant. The thing is, extreme.com has died and given itself up to Freecaster, testament to the awesome job these guys have done in building an online media powerhouse conducive to current and future trends of socially distributable content, live and real time streaming and an openness to collaboration not often seen from such organisations.
It will be interesting to see how and if Freecaster's real time content crosses into the TV channel, and if Extreme can influence the rich content archive already available on Freecaster's database. Is this another example of the power of internet based, dynamic enterprises creating disruption for the more traditional media companies? Or is this organic and mutually beneficial collaboration and partnership for growth? What does this deal mean for the likes of Mpora.TV and Fuel.TV? Are we likely to see more collaborative partnerships, acquisitions and consolidations in the next year? My senses tell me yes, but where will they come from???
There is no doubt that this is a great deal for both parties. It has saved Extreme, in my opinion, and given Freecaster a new channel to expand into. The question is, who is going to compete with them, or join them and should they?