By Aaron Waldron
Where’s Waldo is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Aaron Waldron gives his take on hot-button issues within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
The 23rd running of the Reedy International Off-Road Race of Champions packed a ton of awesome racing action into three days, with some of the best drivers in the world dicing for position at OCRC Raceway. It was another awesome example of why the race has captured such attention and prestige since it was first held in 1987, and on Sunday night we had three deserving champions with three equally interesting stories of how they got there: the former Invitational champ experiencing a career resurgence since joining a new team, the long-time hobbyist realizing his full potential on an international stage, and the youngster continuing his rapid upward trajectory.
It was also the first time that the Reedy Race has been streamed live on social media, and it absolutely blew away any other race we’ve broadcasted - even the 2017 IFMAR Worlds from China - to become the most-watched RC car race ever. There are several reasons why this was possible, most notably our surging popularity on Facebook and YouTube with each new live stream, the primetime hours in the United States, as well as the frequent heads-up competition throughout the weekend that totally hooked a wide audience that had never seen RC racing at this level.
I watched the race from back home on the East Coast, working with our crew (including intern Tyler Hooks, who crushed his first opportunity to interview people live on camera!) to provide coverage on our home page and interacting with our various chat rooms - which, due to the explosion in viewership, were packed all three days. On Facebook alone, our page had an organic read of more than 17 million users over the four days of the event, with more than 2.3 million views and over 6,200 comments.
Here’s a sampling of what non-RC’ers were saying in our chat room, as well as on their own personal profiles as they shared our video feeds with their friends and families:
I mean, these people were loving the show:
Like, REALLY enjoying what they were watching:
Many of the new viewers stumbled across our streams by accident and stuck around to check it out:
A lot of these new viewers suggested to family and friends that this was something they should consider trying themselves:
And there were more than a few past hobbyists who may have been sparked to get back on the track, or convince those with cars to give racing a try:
Getting to experience a live stream on social media from the perspective of a viewer gave me a bunch of ideas we can do at future races to improve our already industry-leading (well, really only), full-featured broadcasts, like interactive segments where we answer common questions about the race format, the equipment that is used, and how the race format works. That way, we can avoid more of this:
Still, the communication between the new viewers and seasoned racers in our chat room was some of the most helpful I’ve ever seen:
This race only reinforced my feelings that, if we ever do want to try to package RC racing into something that’s spectator-friendly, we have to ditch staggered-start qualifying for more heads-up racing:
With drone racing becoming more popular online, it was nice to see at least one person bring up something I suggested in a column from June 2016 (Click to read: What can we learn from drone racing?
) that could make the races easier to watch:
I think it’s safe to say more than a few of our new viewers were impressed by what they saw:
Some of the comments made me laugh:
And some of our new viewers couldn’t get enough:
So how can we best capitalize on this new increase in exposure and help convert interested viewers into racers? There’s a lot that we can do at LiveRC - like creating a track database that’s easy for people to search by location, and shooting informative segments in our broadcasts that can be used as standalone videos to explain the basics of RC racing. You can help, too, by sharing our videos with friends and family, participating in the chat rooms with helpful answers to simple questions, and by continuing to watch the hobby we all love.