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Something for everyone

by Nicola Macdonald

Part consumer, part trade, part shopping, part live show – Autosport International covers all the bases for car enthusiasts.

Every exhibition has some form of build-up and breakdown, but how many can say they have a breakdown and build-up mid-show?

Motorsport Network’s Autosport International, for one, as event director Kate Woodley explains: “On the trade days – Thursday and Friday – we have Autosport Engineering,” she tells EN. “Those exhibitors only want to meet with suppliers and buyers, and we have around 30,000 visitors on those days. On the Friday evening we break down the Engineering Hall, exit those exhibitors, and bring in a weekend area which is much more public facing.”

Autosport took place in January 2019 at the NEC and has taken place annually at the venue since 1991. Catering for the consumer audience as well as trade, the show features a Live Action Arena in Hall 5 of the NEC, a ‘petrolhead heaven’ that seats up to 5,000 and comprises 12 hour-long live performances throughout the show, largely at the weekend.

“People want to see as much racing and stunts as possible,” comments Woodley. “We had the likes of Billy Monger [who lost both legs in a racing accident] appearing in his Formula 3 car, an all-female drifting stunt team and David Croft from Sky Sports presenting.” 

The show welcomes the great and the good of the motorsports world, with the World Rally Championships launching its new season at the event, complete with drivers and co-drivers, and the McLaren team in attendance.

With so much content happening on the show floor, Autosport International gathers a global audience eager to interact with the event and get involved, even if they can’t attend in person. EN caught up with Simon Walton, creative director at video production company Silverstream TV, to learn about the company’s presence at show, new for 2019.

A global audience

“We had our outside broadcast truck on the Autosport show floor as the production base,” Walton explains. “Two presenters reported live from around the five halls using our radio-linked cameras. This included a behind the scenes glimpse of the stunt drivers in the Live Action Arena. The output was broadcast live to three giant screens around the venue. We streamed live on Autosport International’s homepage and a number of its sister brand websites. Key moments were also streamed live on Facebook Live. One of these was the launch of the World Rally Championships which reached over 120,000 viewers.” 

As 2019 was the first collaboration between Silverstream and Autosport International, EN asks what made the organiser take the leap into pushing video at the show.

“Autosport were keen to add buzz on the show floor and give exposure to their key brands and exhibitors,” says Walton. “There was concern that live streaming might deter visitors, so we made sure the coverage was a tantalising glimpse of the show that encouraged visitors.

“We’ve had some terrific results with Facebook Live with other clients, so we recommended having Facebook Live blast at key moments. This was very successful, with hundreds of thousands of viewers engaging with the show on Facebook.

“Live streaming out of venues like the NEC is now routine for us. The venues have good connectivity and their IT guys understand what we need. Bandwidth in venues is expensive, so we use it sparingly. When a brand like Autosport want to stream to multiple platforms at once we know we can’t send out individual streams to each one, as it will multiply the cost to the organisers. We now stream once out and split the feed at our server to the different platforms.

“Another challenge is the sheer size of Autosport International – covering five halls of the NEC – so our radio-linked cameras were pushed to the limit.”

While many organisers are making inroads into live streaming and producing vast amounts of video content at their event, Autosport’s impressive and varied output is still ahead of the curve.

“We’re always looking at ways of updating the event,” concludes Woodley, “We’re not standing still.

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