Catching Up With Dew Tour GM Kenny Mitchell

Kenny Mitchell, Dew Tour VP and General Manager
Kenny Mitchell, Dew Tour VP and General Manager

After announcing this year’s condensed schedule of events for the Dew Tour, as well as an expanded digital platform and live broadcast partnership with NBC, Alli Sports was greeted with success at the first stop of the 2012 series in Ocean City, Maryland.

As the Dew Tour  gears up for the next big event in San Francisco, October 18-21, and the Mountain Championships in Breckenridge to round out 2012, December 13-16, we caught up with Vice President and General Manager of the Dew Tour Kenny Mitchelto find out what changes and additions have been made to the tour, and how he expects these changes to affect the overall success of the event series.

“Nearly 100,000 spectators attended the Dew Tour Pantech Beach Championships over the four-day span, the highest attended event in Dew Tour history,” says Mitchell. “San Francisco is a new location for the Dew Tour, but we are expecting to continue the trend with really solid attendance numbers. Breckenridge has been one of our strongest locations in terms of attendance in past years, so we expect to build upon our presence there.”

Here’s more from our interview with Mitchell.

Explain what’s new for the SF stop and how this is different than other stops in years past?

The new Dew Tour is an evolution of the event series Alli Sports has been running for the past seven years. Together with our founding partner Mountain Dew, we made significant changes based on the evolving needs of the industry.

The fundamental change with the new Dew Tour was moving to a format featuring three larger, distinctive, more premium events. Now, we have three vastly different settings and we are using those settings to inspire and inform the Dew Tour events. Our first event of the new Dew Tour was in Ocean City, Maryland, and it was all about the beach and transition-focused disciplines like Vert, Bowl, BMX Park ,and Mega 2.0. In San Francisco, we've embraced our urban setting and the city's rich action sports heritage. The Street course, designed with input from participating skaters and industry veterans, will include replicas of iconic San Francisco skate spots like Hubba Hideout and the China Banks. The Skate Street Finals will be the only Skate Street contest broadcast on network television this year, airing live on NBC Saturday October 20 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm ET.

We've also created two all new disciplines debuting at the Toyota City Championships in San Francisco – Skate and BMX Streetstyle. We kept hearing from the athletes and the industry that they wanted to do something to recognize what the skaters and BMX riders in SF are doing everyday in the streets.

So we did.

We're shutting down Harrison Street in San Francisco and creating an urban playground for skaters and BMX riders with features inspired by what they see on a side street or an SF hill on any given day. For the skate lines, we'll create driveway gaps, ledges and stair sets and bring in benches, and bus stops. For the BMX lines, we made a big and dynamic playground using things like Toyota vehicles, storage containers and box drops to create their lines for the live NBC broadcast on Sunday Oct 21.

The Dew Tour Experience is also a huge and important change for us – and a lot of the credit goes to our valued partners. Each partner has created unique activations to engage our fans and give them a stronger connection to their brands and the Dew Tour. The Dew Tour Experience is now a one-of-a-kind experience that feels cohesive, bigger and first-class – it's much more than a collection of tents and structures. We've created a new standard for action sports events in the way we're delivering brand experiences to the consumer.

What has been the reaction of condensing the tour down into three stops now that the tour is underway and things are moving?

The reaction coming out of the Pantech Beach Championships in Ocean City was great and exceeded all of our expectations. Our goal was to create bigger, better and more premium events – from the courses, to competitions, to the consumer activation with the Dew Tour Experience – and we received overwhelming positive feedback that we delivered on our goal. We look forward to keeping the momentum going in San Francisco and Breckenridge.

On the production side, how has the tour being condensed made things easier? How has it made things more challenging?

Creating and producing events the size of the Dew Tour is never easy. While we may have fewer events for 2012, we've taken on so much more to ensure each one of the three stands alone as a large-scale, athlete and fan-friendly action sports and lifestyle event.

What are you hoping to see out of the next two stops of the tour?

We're looking to continue our success and make a big impact in San Francisco. We're looking forward to bringing our new, enhanced event to a city with such great action sports heritage. It will also be the first time that our newest partner iON will be activating on-site, and we're excited to integrate their new technologies into the consumer activations and broadcast and digital components.

As we head toward winter, the iON Mountain Championships will be the first winter action sports event and be a true kickoff to the season with the world's top men and women skiers and snowboarders competing in Breckenridge. With the Olympics just over a year away, it will be a great opportunity to preview the competition heading into Sochi. We'll continue to combine lifestyle elements with action sports in the Dew Tour Experience to expand the reach of our events.

Follow the jump to hear more about the decision to create the new media platform in conjunction with NBC.

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How will you measure success for this type of event – how will that measurement change from the past now that the tour has fewer stops?

There will always be metrics to gauge the success of the major sports events including on-site attendance, TV ratings, and digital viewership. While those are important, the reaction and feedback from our athletes, our partners, and our fans is critical to the Dew Tour. We were very pleased with the first event of 2012, and the ongoing feedback and dialogue will make us even stronger for the second and third events.

The addition of three new disciplines; along with the increased the number of TV hours per event; days of coverage, and live streaming more events than ever before, has made our events bigger and brings more content to our audience.

How did you arrive at the new media and broadcast platform strategy this time around with NBC? How many hours of broadcast time did you increase this year’s coverage by?

Having the support of the NBC Sports Group is amazing. The breadth of resources and talent at our disposal allows the Dew Tour to create more meaningful storytelling and content for our viewers. The technology that NBC brings to the table is huge. Our younger fans are consuming action sports in new and different ways than ever before and now we can offer the Dew Tour Live digital content that appeals directly to that audience.

The 2012 Dew Tour offers more programming and content per event than ever before, with 11 television and more than 10 digital hours from each event. We've doubled the amount of coverage days per event (four in 2012 versus two in 2011) and increased number of broadcast hours 83% per event (11 in 2012 versus 6 in 2011). The unprecedented broadcast exposure includes four hours of live programming on NBC, and seven original hours on NBC Sports Network.

The 2012 Tour also has an expanded, comprehensive digital offering from each of the events. Dew Tour Live brought more than 20 hours of live competitions and behind-the-scenes exclusive content, athlete interviews and more to fans from the Pantech Beach Championships and will do the same from San Francisco and Breckenridge. Dew Tour Live utilizes the same technology used during the Super Bowl for live streams of NBC Sports broadcasted events and companion content, providing an enhanced experience for the online viewer.

What part of the tour are you most excited about and/or proud of, and why?

I'm proud of both the longevity of the Dew Tour, and our ability to evolve to meet the changing needs of the action sports industry and our fans. I'm also really honored to be a part of the extended Dew Tour family – the partners, athletes, fans, host cities and everyone else involved in the events – working so hard to make the Dew Tour a success. This is an immensely passionate, hard-working group of people and I'm fortunate to work alongside such a great team.

Any closing thoughts?

We are so excited to be heading to San Francisco for the first time and encourage anyone in the area to come and check out the Dew Tour for themselves, it's going to be a great free weekend of competition and fun at the Dew Tour Experience. For those who can't make it to San Francisco, you can catch all the action on NBC and NBC Sports Network or on our live stream at DewTour.com.