Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) organizes the world's biggest cycling event: the Tour de France. To stay relevant in a world of digital media and changing viewing habits, A.S.O. has used data to transform the way audiences watch and experience the race.
Foreword: Making history and shaping the future of fan engagement at the Tour de France
Jason Goodall – Chief Executive Officer, NTT Ltd.
Five years down the line, the thrill of being the Official Technology Partner of the Tour de France hasn’t faded. It’s a privilege to be associated with this epic event, and our involvement has allowed us to demonstrate, to a massive global audience, how we help our clients do great things.
In many respects, our journey with Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), organizers of the Tour de France, has corresponded closely with what we’ve seen in the industry over this time. Rapid, dramatic changes in technology have forced organizations in all industries to rethink everything from customer engagement strategies to operating models, even their fundamental business offerings.
Our relationship with A.S.O. started with a clear goal: to revolutionize the viewing experience of the race in a way that would be relevant to a digital-media audience. We progressed from being able to capture data from each rider’s bike to integrating that data into machine-learning models that can predict race outcomes.
At the same time, we transformed our own business to be better equipped to help our clients achieve their ambitions with technology. We evolved our platform-delivered Managed Services into a robust back-end that enables exciting development in the front-end, with intelligent security built into application development and operations.
In this e-book, we look back on an exciting and rewarding five-year partnership. Sometimes, it’s been a steady climb to the top; sometimes, a furious sprint. At all times, it’s been an incredible joy.
We also look ahead to the art of the possible. Our integration with NTT will open new doors to R&D and innovation, and give us access to a larger pool of skilled resources across the globe. We’re excited about what this means for the future.
Throughout our partnership with A.S.O., we’ve had the opportunity to push the boundaries of what new technologies have promised. But we’ve never deployed new technology for technology’s sake. We remain focussed on that original goal: to draw in fans with engaging stories that give them a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the team strategies, individual effort behind every win, and the magic of the greatest cycling race in the world
A revolutionary history
In 2019, A.S.O. celebrates 100 years of the Yellow Jersey. Over the course of our partnership, technology has changed at the speed of light, and we’ve had to change with it.
How the Tour de France still gets it right after 116 years
What happens when you attempt to do amazing things
Yann le Moenner – Chief Executive Officer, A.S.O
Why the Tour de France remains so captivating
The Tour de France continues to capture audiences around the world. It’s a combination of the sport, the excitement, and the opportunity to see the beautiful landscape of France as riders pass through different parts of the country.
There’s also the size of the event: 3,500km over three weeks, in the biggest stadium in the world, with some climbs having close to a million people along the road. This is not something you see in any other sport.
And, of course, there are the stories of all the legends who have chased and claimed the jersey over the last century. In 2019 we celebrate 100 years of the Yellow Jersey – 100 years since Eugène Christophe first pulled on the now iconic symbol of the Tour de France. We’ve come a long way since that day and the future looks even more exciting.
The first Maillot Jaune was worn by Eugène Christophe on 19 July 1919.
Since then, it's been worn by 261 different riders from 24 countries.
1903 – 2019:
from imagination to involvement
The Tour de France was created to increase circulation of the daily sports newspaper L’Auto. In the beginning, journalists couldn’t follow the riders along the road – they had to take the train. Readers could only imagine what it was like for these riders to tackle stages of 500km, sometimes riding into the night, to complete the 3,500km race.
Radio and newsreels
The first radio broadcasts in the 1920s brought fans closer to the action. They didn’t have to wait to read about events in the news, and they could hear the sounds of the race and interviews with riders. Later that decade, short newsreels gave a glimpse of the highlights.
Live television broadcast
Then, in the 1950s, television arrived and everything changed. For the first time, people could see their heroes in action. It was the closest they had ever been to experiencing the race live and in person.
Digital content factory
Today, thousands of journalists can watch and report on the race from the press room. With advances in live tracking and data capturing, they can choose what to follow on Race Center, whether it’s a particular rider, a team, or an unfolding story.
The great thing about digital is that it doesn’t compete with the broadcast. Instead, it presents us with more options. We have data for the super-signal, the main television broadcast, and a content factory that delivers data-based stories in real time and allows for video replay. All of this contributes to fans being more intimately involved in the race and being able to personalize their experience by following the channels that interest them.
Going deeper into the pack
Before Dimension Data came on board as Official Technology Partner, we didn’t have a clear view of who was in which group, and what the real time differences were. GPS devices on motorbikes gave us some idea, but now each rider having a tracker on their bike, we can get any information we want when we want it.
Our aim with digital was to go deeper into the pack and help people better understand what’s involved in a race. For instance, the domestique often expends more energy than the leader, moving aside at the last minute for the leader to win. For sprinters, the climbs are really difficult – they have to fight to still be in the race on the Champs-Élysées.
With live tracking and analytics, we can show this more clearly now, going into the dynamics of the group and analysing what’s behind this teamwork.
Progress for fans of the future
Our partnership has been built on the idea that the digital transformation of the Tour de France should be as ambitious as possible, incorporating everything A.S.O. is doing, from media and social networks to hospitality and credentials. We look forward to seeing how the partnership with NTT will take the digital experience into the next era.
The next step is to deliver a unique experience to fans along the road, connecting them to activities in the villages so they can share the experience of being a part of the race in a way that simply hasn’t been possible before. We're connecting the biggest stadium in the world. We're also looking at how cities can benefit from being more bicycle-friendly, which I think will be a very interesting project.