The product of six years and more than 50,000 hours of development and testing by a team of expert engineers, Tour Tracker has become professional cycling’s premier online and mobile race coverage platform. Having been tailored to suit the specific needs and branding of more than 20 major events, including the Tour de France, Tour of California and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Tour Tracker, as lead developer and company founder Allan Padgett (pictured below) explains, is a turn-key solution unrivalled within the marketplace.
What exactly is Tour Tracker and when/why was it created?
Tour Tracker can be viewed from a few different perspectives. From a cycling fan’s viewpoint, Tour Tracker is an award-winning suite of apps for following professional cycling in real time. There are native apps for iPhone, iPad and Android; HTML-based apps compatible with any device including Blackberry and Windows Phone; and an immersive desktop browser experience as well. So no matter where a fan is, he or she can follow a race via live video, text commentary, GPS tracking on live maps and course profiles, photography, and social media. The apps also provide full previews of the race – stage descriptions and routes, team rosters, rider biographies – and full reporting after the race – daily results, overall standings, race recaps, and rider interviews.
From an event or broadcaster perspective, Tour Tracker provides those apps in a custom, branded package that projects the event regionally and/or internationally while highlighting their key partners, sponsors and advertisers. Equally importantly, the Tour Tracker platform provides a complete infrastructure for collecting, managing, archiving and distributing the event data. Fans might not think about where all the race data is coming from, but we certainly do. We provide the tools for use before, during and after the race and a complete server-side solution for managing and distributing all the data.
The when and why of Tour Tracker goes back to 2007, when the Amgen Tour of California was looking for a ‘high-tech’ way to present their new race to the world. They saw that the internet was primed to change sport watching generally and for smaller sports like cycling in particular. I was the lead engineer on that original product and was fortunate to acquire the rights to the project soon thereafter.
What are the advantages of Tour Tracker for broadcasters and rights holders?
For a rights holder/broadcaster, Tour Tracker offers the following advantages:
A turnkey solution: We provide an award-winning solution that can be branded, customised and in the app stores very quickly. Developing a solution internally will cost more, take longer and possibly fail to be ready in time for the event. Internal teams or local app shops may seem like great options, but the risk here is very high and very real.
A proven solution: This is critical as developing a solid set of apps for an ever-increasing number of devices is a huge challenge. A proven solution means that your sponsors and advertisers will have a positive experience and return for more. It also means your customers will be back for more, and that the increasingly important social media world will be on your side.
Monetisation: Getting a quality app out the door is key and can provide immediate revenue from paid downloads and/or in-app upgrades for live video. Tour Tracker provides this and more with rich sponsorship branding, industry-standard advertising and video pre-roll/post-roll options. It is all about maximising the return on investment and Tour Tracker delivers.
"We provide an award-winning solution that can be branded, customised and in the app stores very quickly."
And how about the event organiser?
For an event organiser, these same advantages apply but Tour Tracker also offers a few other things to help an organiser have a successful event.
Exposure: Tour Tracker is an excellent way for an event to increase its exposure regionally and internationally. Events exist through sponsorship, and sponsorship is valued based on the exposure companies get through the event. Everyone agrees that web and mobile are the future of sports, and Tour Tracker is the premier platform for cycling today.
Increased Sponsorship Value: Since Tour Tracker was originally designed for a specific bike race, it was designed to highlight sponsorships key to cycling - jersey sponsors and stage sponsors – throughout the app. There is no question that the events we work with have been able to raise the value of those sponsorships via Tour Tracker.
Broadcaster Upsell: Once Tour Tracker is integrated into a race, the organiser now has a property to resell to their broadcasters. In this model, a race-specific version of Tour Tracker is created but with the final advertisement and branding details left to the broadcaster. The organiser can help increase the value of their event by providing the broadcaster with a solution while realising an addition revenue stream in the process.
What kind of work goes into maintaining the app’s real-time stats and race information once an event-specific version has gone live?
The details behind the data vary from race to race. For the Tour de France, for example, we start with the official data provided to licensed broadcasters by ASO. Our servers talk directly to ASO servers and passed optimised versions to the apps. For data types that ASO does not provide, our servers seamlessly blend in data from other sources including Twitter, optional commentary feeds, photography, and others.
For other events, we have a team on the ground or can provide the event simple to use tools if they want to handle some of the data with their own team to decrease costs. We also work with each event to do a one-time integration with all of their existing partners such as their timing and results provider.
One of the benefits of the platform is that it is designed to handle this variety of inputs. If an event has a Twitter feed for commentary already set up, we can ingest that with a flip of a switch. If they already have a photographer posting photos, the same thing applies.
Tour Tracker was of course developed for cycling but are there other sports that the technology could be applied to? Are you looking to branch into other sports?
Definitely. The core platform has been used in white label form during almost every major US marathon and Ironman competition over the past two years. If you think about it, while there are some cycling-specific aspects of the platform, much of the data is sport-agnostic. Photos, video, commentary, Twitter, and even the concept of routes all can be used in any sport. We are always open to new opportunities to take the core platform to help other events expand their coverage quickly and reliably.
"We are always open to new opportunities to take the core platform to help other events expand their coverage quickly and reliably."
What is your personal background prior to setting up Tour Tracker?
While I enjoy the business of professional sports, I’m an engineer through and through. That journey started at Stanford University in California where I earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science. From Stanford I went straight to Adobe Systems where I was fortunate to be involved in a great series of projects. In fact, my first assignment was to write the Windows (a pretty new platform at the time) version of this “little new project called Acrobat.” Needless to say, being the lead engineer on Acrobat and Adobe Reader was exciting and opened up many opportunities. There were some great experiences working directly with Netscape on a core piece of the web – search Wikipedia for details. And it also put me in position years later to write the first Tour Tracker app, bringing us back to the present.
For more information about Tour Tracker, visit http://www.thetourtracker.com