CBS and Tough Mudder — the endurance race known for teamwork, challenging obstacles, and your friend’s social media page — have partnered on a multi-level distribution deal to bring Tough Mudder events to CBS’ television networks as well as digital content on CBSSports.com. This follows the natural progression for content. Build a large grassroots following that stresses exercise and competition. Create strong branding and social media following. Throw it on television and see if the participants and fans of the event will watch. Grow the competition to even greater levels of success.
That is what Tough Mudder is doing. It is the natural progression. Other sports and competitions have done the same with the most famous example probably being the evolution of CrossFit and the CrossFit Games. There aren’t many people who thought there was a market for watching people work out, but the CrossFit Games are now held in stadiums like StubHub Center in Carson, California and watched by fans on ESPN and ESPN2.
CBS is hoping that Tough Mudder can do the same, and the two companies aren’t just showing events. There will be content moving up towards the Toughest Mudder competition in 2016 and 2017. These types of side content create connections with fans and develop the personalities of the competitors. The idea is that viewers get more attached the more they know about the events and teams participating. It also helps that Tough Mudder has a built-in audience that has participated in a Tough Mudder course before.
Sports networks are still starved for content, and paying high prices for NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL rights have put them in a tough position. They have to think of creative companies to partner with. That is what CBS is doing as it will air an in-depth look at World’s Toughest Mudder on Christmas Day 2016, and the Toughest Mudder event as well as a six-event Toughest Mudder Series in 2017. That’s a lot of running through mud or crawling under an electric fence. The sports-media world is expanding its content to non-traditional sports and hopefully can convince advertisers this targeted demographic is worth the investment.