Tough Mudder’s new media partnership with Sky Sports is the latest broadcast deal for the series and highlights the surging popularity and commercial opportunities which mass participation fitness events present for brands and sponsors.
The video content partnership will present an in-depth look into all the action from the brand’s most extreme event, the World’s Toughest Mudder, which consists of a 24-hour endurance race featuring more extreme obstacles and elite athletes than the mass participation events held around the world.
Starting on 24 January Sky Sports’ available to all channel, Sky Sports Mix, will launch its coverage of the 2016 race with a preview show, Road to World’s Toughest Mudder, followed by the coverage of the race to be aired on 26 January.
In addition, Sky Sports Mix will run a six-part series with pre-event and post-event content looking at some of the top competitors. The show will consist of five short digital episodes focusing on three “every day” heroes and their journeys to the event followed by a one-hour special airing later in the year.
The partnership includes both digital and linear platforms, meaning Sky will also post a mix of short-form Tough Mudder episodic content across its Sky Sports apps for mobile and connected devices, as well as on skysports.com and across Sky’s social media channels.
“We are thrilled to partner with Sky to expand our video content distribution footprint globally, bringing Tough Mudder to millions of people throughout the UK,” said Will Dean, co-founder and chief executive of Tough Mudder.
Sky Sports’s head of multisport, Georgina Faulkner, added: "Sky Sports Mix has brought a whole new set of sporting events into every Sky home for the first time, and Tough Mudder is another exciting addition.”
The deal builds on similar broadcast partnerships which the series had made with leading broadcasters including CW Network and CBS Sports, which agreed a two-year deal to show World’s Toughest Mudder race starting with the 2017 instalment of the series.
Similarly, Tough Mudder’s rival, Spartan Race, is now in its third year of a partnership with NBC Sports Network and has a multi-year deal with Reebok.
The growth of mass-participation fitness regimes such as Tough Mudder and CrossFit has attracted a lot of business from brands looking to capitalise on the commercial opportunities around them. Reebok has positioned itself as one of the leading sports brands for such sports having agreed a 10-year sponsorship of the CrossFit Games in 2011.
Neil Hopkins, director at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, warns that brands will have to tread carefully if they plan on moving into the space though.
“Brands like Reebok already have an established presence in and around events like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race as they were quick to innovative from a product perspective and have gained market leadership and credibility as a consequence,” says Hopkins.
“The challenge for brands without a natural affiliation to the sport is to understand the Tough Mudder personality and deliver campaigns that resonate with highly-committed, no-nonsense athletes and participants."
Tough Mudder’s commercial partners include sports brand Merrell, Jeep, Virgin Active, Bosch and Microsoft’s fitness band. It reportedly generates annual revenues of more than $100m.