Pay-per view Southern 80?

Mistress during the Southern 80 Unlimited Inboard race at Victoria Park boat ramp. Photo: Cath Grey Photo by Cath Grey

Moama Water Sports Club was last night considering whether to make the 2022 running of the Southern 80 Ski Race a pay-per-view event as it plans to live-stream the Murray River event around the world for the first time in its 51-year history.

Ten of next year’s Southern 80 teams will be involved in a trial run this weekend for the planned live-stream of the race via the Multi Vision Streaming Network (MVSN).

MVSN chief executive Steve Lewis said he was waiting on an answer from the club in regards to setting up the race as a pay-per-view event, depending on the results from the weekend’s streaming trial.

A decision was expected at last night’s meeting of Moama Water Sports Club.

A partnership between the hosts of the world-renowned ski event and the MVSN company was formed through an investor in the company, Matt Davies, a former ski racer

“He brought it to our attention because of his experience in the sport. We have been talking about it with the club right through COVID,” Mr Lewis said.

Mr Lewis, who has a long list of credentials including working with American rock band Aerosmith, said the company had been perfecting its technology in the meantime.

That technology will be put to the ultimate test during the weekend’s trial, which will involve riverside and boat-mounted cameras, along with hand-held cameras, to simulate the staging of the February 11 to 13 event.

Mr Lewis said the upgrade that Telstra had made in the area, by boosting 5G offering, would allow for the trial to be streamed live this weekend.

“Apparently there is a lot more coverage and a lot stronger band width. A small test was done up and down the river only last week,” he said.

“They didn’t do the full course, but they did the trouble spots.

“And the results were good.”

He said the challenging part of this weekend would be going from that initial test at 100km/h to double that pace in a simulated racing environment.

“It is a pretty amazing event. For the trial we will have 12 to 15 cameras on the riverbank, on boats and at the finish line.”

MVSN has partnered with another Victorian company, Quad Lock, which makes brackets to hold cameras on high-speed motorcycles.

“They’ve given us some brackets. We will use mobile phones for the trial, simply for data and battery purposes,” Mr Lewis said.

“Mobile phones have amazing cameras. If you are going to live-stream using a GoPro, you need a photo anyway.”

Mr Lewis said he was waiting on the go-ahead from the club as to whether people would be able to live-stream the trial event this weekend.

MVSN’s introduction to live-streaming sports events was through former Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore John Marcos, who allowed the start-up technology company to trial the concept on two boats in the Sydney to Hobart open water event.

“We were able to stream open video, which is where MVSN started,” Mr Lewis said.

Mr Lewis will be in Sydney, connected to the live-stream, for this weekend’s trial, and there will also be a live feed to an American test site.

“It will be a full dress rehearsal, of sorts — boats and skiers all operating under racing conditions.

“We will have people tuning in from America.

“It will tell us where we are at with our live-streaming plans. Going that fast through a winding river with tall trees on either side is not good conditions to get a live signal.

“But we have some terrific people in place to make it happen.”

MVSN head of production is Peter Friedman, who has worked with the PGA, along with Star Wars creator George Lucas and with Nike on its Michael Jordan commercials.

Mr Lewis said the partnership with Moama Water Sports Club could be a “boon” for both parties.

“MVSN is a tool for both live and on-demand content,” he said.

“Moama Water Sports Club will be able to have advertising video on demand and they will have a pay-for-view opportunity.

“We are looking at the club to do more content about the boats, the history of the race and other content.”

Mr Lewis said his team had a wealth of experience with media production and was currently in negotiations with other sporting organisations from the motorsport arena.

In Friday’s Riv, we will provide details of the live-stream if it is made available to the public.