The Tour de France has undergone a huge digital transformation, and will continue to do so over the next few years, according to Julien Goupil, media director at Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) which organises the event.
Goupil was speaking at Cloud Expo Europe today where he explained that ASO undertook an analysis of the Tour de France in 2014.
The company uncovered an ageing audience, and no major innovation in TV coverage for years. Strategies and tactics were hard to understand for viewers, and it was often unclear what was even happening in the race. The feedback showed clearly that the audience wanted more engagement.
"We needed to bring the Tour De France, which is 100 years old, into the future," he said.
This involved partnering with the right stakeholders, developing new digital solutions and creating and managing the data that passes through these solutions.
ASO announced a five-year deal with Dimension Data in March last year to help the organisation transform digitally.
Yann le Moenner, managing director at ASO, explained that Dimension Data was chosen because its staff had the right skills and a passion for cycling.
"They love the sport and they have the skills and knowledge to make things happen," he said.
Adam Foster, group executive of the sports practice at Dimension Data, pointed out that ASO does an incredible job in managing the logistics behind the Tour de France, but is not a technology company.
"They needed access to the cloud to process data in real time, and one of the things we needed to do was build a mobile data centre," he said.
Dimension Data delivered real-time data analytics on all 198 riders last year, processing four to six million records during every stage.
The data is sent by a transponder attached to the competitors' bicycles to nearby cars before being passed to a helicopter and then to Data Dimension's mobile data centre.
From there, it is pushed into the cloud and then into the different channels that consume it, such as broadcasters and race commentators.
Goupil said that all of this enabled the firm to dramatically improve engagement with the audience last year. The Tour de France website had 15 million unique views, the mobile app had 1.35 million downloads, videos had 16.5 million impressions, and social media followers grew by 27.8 per cent.
Most importantly, he said, the perception of the Tour de France had altered by being transformed digitally.
But Goupil emphasised that this is just the start, and that Dimension Data will work with ASO to continue to digitalise the competition. For example, it hopes to provide real-time streaming access to cameras on competitors during the race.
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