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The “Lance effect” is bringing more attention and more money to the sport.
Erik Vervloet, chief marketing officer for the WTC, said the buzz generated by Armstrong’s participation should increase television and sponsorship opportunities for the niche sport. The WTC, which oversees 27 Ironmans and 52 half-Ironman races, earns the bulk of its revenue through participation fees, which range from $175 to $1500. NBC, which has Ironman’s rights through 2018, broadcasts a condensed version of the Hawaii world championships two months after the race.
“We want a more aggressive TV deal, we’ve been exploring how to package our global races into a model that works, and Lance helps in that pursuit ,” Vervloet said. “Lance brings million of eyeballs who have never followed [triathlon].”
On February 12, Armstrong arrived unannounced in Panama to race a half Ironman. Despite the lack of promotion, 150,000 unique visitors followed his results that day Ironman.com, which a WTC representative said is about 10 times higher than the average. Vervloet said Armstrong’s last-minute decision to race did not leave time to organize a webcast or television broadcast. Armstrong finished second at the race to New Zealander Bevan Docherety, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist.
“People found out about it word of mouth,” he said.
The WTC will not make the same mistake twice. The company is now promoting Armstrong’s races on its website and in company press releases.
Read more: Forbes.com