SBJ/October 18-24, 2010/Events

Street League to add events, tweak elements in year two

Street leagueDave Swift / Michael Blabac
The skateboarding series wants a schedule shift to boost TV ratings.
Rob Dyrdek’s Street League was considered to be the first test of street skateboarding’s mainstream viability. But after the first year of competition, which concluded last month, industry observers say the verdict is still out.

The series, which visited Glendale, Ariz., Ontario, Calif., and Las Vegas, attracted 15,000 spectators. It averaged a 0.3 Nielsen rating and 413,000 viewers over three delayed broadcasts from Sept. 15-29.

Dyrdek said the attendance met organizers’ expectations but that the television audience fell short of what he hoped to attract. He added that the 8 p.m. Wednesday time slot on ESPN2 hurt tune-in because it put the event on at 5 p.m. in West Coast markets where many street skaters live.

“We were killed by that,” Dyrdek said. “We know the West Coast is our strongest market. Eighty percent of our Web traffic came from the West Coast, but only 20 percent of our viewers did. That tells you why that prime-time East Coast [time] spot really hindered us.”

Dyrdek said he is looking at making some changes in the second year that he believes will boost ratings and attendance. He is in talks with ESPN about eliminating weekday prime-time broadcasts and shifting to a live, weekend time slot. He also is looking to add two event stops next year, which will take the tour from three to five markets. He hopes to add venues on the East Coast and in the Pacific Northwest.

“There’s a ton we have to refine,” Dyrdek said. “We got started so late. There’s so much room for growth.”

Dyrdek said in addition to adding new events, series organizers will develop a grassroots marketing plan that will enable them to reach out to local skate shops and send out street teams in each city that hosts an event next year. They also plan to improve the flow of the show in the venues and make it more fan-friendly, as well as upgrade the television production quality and broadcast talent, which could see Dyrdek step away from the broadcast booth.

“It’s something we definitely need to address,” Dyrdek said. “It might be smarter to have someone a little more refined in that position.”

Dyrdek said the event turned a small profit that he put in the $5,000 range. He expects that to improve with the elimination of some of last year’s startup costs and the addition of new sponsors.

“They’ve got a long way to go,” said Wasserman Media Group principal Steve Astephen. “It’s brand new and Rome’s not built in a day, but they have a five-year plan.”
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