One of the more controversial announcements in our sport in 2024 was the announcement that Flosports had won the North American rights to the Diamond League (except Nike Pre Classic) and Continental Tour Meetings (except US-based Continental Tour) for 2025 and beyond. Social media was vicious, and the haters for paying for streaming came out. 

Flosports should not be blamed for bidding on the Diamond League and Continental Tour rights. The half-energized coverage and lack of promotion by NBC showed, the data shows that the US audience for Diamond League on Peacock was 2.6 million views for the 14 meets (not Including NIKE Pre), smaller than Norway’s audience figures for the 2023 Diamond League. The Diamond League knew that they needed an energized partner, and that is what they found in Flosports. 

This is part 2 of our coverage of this important development in the sport. You can find part 1 here.

Ryan Fenton was kind enough to answer all of our questions and provide photos. Special thanks to Brian Reinhart, VP/ Corporate Communications at FloTrack.

RunBlogRun, #1: Ryan, how did you get involved in track and field?

Ryan Fenton: I first got involved in track & field as an athlete in 4th grade when I tried out for the elementary school team and was cut (by my mom, who was one of the coaches). That didn’t sit well with me, so I started running/practicing afterward, and the next year, I made the team and was the best distance runner in the school. I continued running competitively through college, where I was All-Conference in the steeplechase at Clemson (2000-2005), and then moved to Boston and ran for NB Boston for a little over a year after college and prior to joining FloSports (finished 5th in 5k at USATF Outdoor Club Nationals in 2007).

RunBlogRun, #2: What was your first experience in running media?

Ryan Fenton: As it relates to professional experience in running media, I emailed Mark Floreani – CEO and Co-Founder of FloSports, who was also a former D1 track athlete (we ran the same event in college and competed against one another one time…Mark’s PR is much better than mine, but I got him in the one head to head match up we had – in December 2007 and offered to help cover track meets in Boston where I was living. I owned a video camera and loved the sport of track & field. Mark came to Boston soon after for the Reebok Indoor Grand Prix, and we covered our first meeting together at Boston University (shout out to coach Robyne Johnson for welcoming us!). From that point on, I filmed track meets every weekend and, after about 8 weeks, quit my job in Boston, was Mark’s first hire at FloTrack, and moved to Austin after the ‘08 Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston.

If I take a step back, though, my first exposure to covering track & field was from my father, who filmed a lot of my high school track & XC races. He would always comment about the weather conditions and general event information and give very light play-by-play…he did not have experience in this, but he captured these moments so our family could watch the races. I used his camera quite a bit in HS and college to capture moments and “interview” my friends while traveling or during summer breaks. I bought my own camcorder after college and continued on the path of covering T&F, so when I landed at FloTrack, I was far from experienced but very comfortable behind the camera.

Mark Floreani and I in December 2023 at our house’s end-of-year company offsite, where I was honored for 15 years of service at FloSports. Photo from Ryan Fenton.

RunBlogRun, #3:  How did you get involved in Flotrack?

Ryan Fenton: See answer to question #2….my first experience in running media was FloTrack.

RunBlogRun, #4:  What do people who watch streaming sports not appreciate about what Flotrack does?

Ryan Fenton: I think that some of the newer fans and the next generation of track & field athletes may not be aware of our story: how we started, where we’ve come, and the amount of people in our building who are authentically passionate about track and field (many of whom have competed in the sport!). We did not make much money for a number of years…some events would cover our travel/lodging costs, but we only made money if we were able to get a sponsor involved. FloTrack/FloSports was built on the efforts of those who cared deeply about the sports that they covered and not off of funding or any major revenue. That ethos hasn’t changed in all the years that I’ve been here. Sure, we’ve grown, gotten investment, and matured as a business, but at our heart, we are still, in my opinion, the most authentic sports media company on the planet.

I also think people would be surprised by the sheer volume of content we stream. We had a record year last year and streamed over 2 billion live minutes across 24,000 events of the 25+ sports we cover. But more than the streaming numbers, we support all this live event coverage with social and original content that keeps audiences engaged and lifts up the athletes and their stories in a meaningful way.

We’ve done this in a number of our other sports outside of the FloTrack, with stars like Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Motorsports (FloRacing); in fact, we created an entire series around Dirt Racing and Kyle that introduced millions to a discipline of racing that was often overlooked. We’ve built athlete profiles through storytelling around the sport of Jiu-Jitsu on our FloGrappling vertical with our Daisy Fresh series that spotlights young and emerging talent in 30-minute videos, and our focus on one of the sport’s superstars, Gordon Ryan, through podcasts, original series, and social media content. We’ve done this repeatedly for the sports we cover, broadening the aperture to reach more fans. It’s a model that works well, and we’re going to build on it with the many athletes in Track & Field.

Our team covering the 2024 Penn Relays in Philly (Bryan Diebel, Olivia Ekpone, Ashley Tysiac, Cory Mull, and myself), a photo from Ryan Fenton.

RunBlogRun, #5: What has been your favorite event to cover?

Ryan Fenton: There are a lot of great track & field events across the globe, but I’d have to say that my favorites that I’ve personally covered are Boston University, Penn Relays, Payton Jordan, Monaco DL, World Championships, Boston Marathon, and the Olympic Trials

RunBlogRun #6: Do you have a favorite interview?

Ryan Fenton: We have been on the ground to cover some of the biggest moments in the sport. It’s hard to pick a favorite…I love being there for special moments and being able to share those moments with fans. A couple of interviews that stand out from earlier years are with Maggie Vessey after her 800 breakthrough in Monaco in 2009 and Andy Wheating the following year at Monaco after his 1500 breakthrough…the pure excitement from the athletes in those moments was awesome! Chris Solinsky running in Stockholm (with Jerry Schumacher holding the camera while running), and Meb Keflezghi is following the NYC Marathon in 2013, one year after Hurricane Sandy, where he describes an emotional finish that he experienced with a runner from Staten Island.

We also have some amazing workouts and feature videos like are memorable to me…Oklahoma State Mile Repeats (Ryan Vail, German Fernandez); Jordan Hasay in HSGalen Rupp in StockholmCam Levins “Driven” (first behind-the-scenes look into his high mileage training program…. fun clip here); Bernard Lagat “Driven” 

There is honestly so much that I can point to that is illustrative of the kind of work that FloTrack does daily and the kind of stories we want to tell about the amazing athletes.

RunBlogRun, #7: What are the challenges of Flosports covering the Diamond League and Continental Tour?

Ryan Fenton: We have a great partner in the Diamond League who will provide us with a world-class feed and coverage of the events that we can distribute across our channels. That’s the easy part. I think the biggest challenge we face is going to be educating fans about the value proposition that FloTrack offers and developing the kind of shoulder programming that will keep them engaged throughout the year and lift up the sport beyond marquee ips like the Diamond League and the Continental Tour. Having interviews like this is the first step to start that education, and we’re consistently meeting with our team now to develop content plans that will roll out in 2025 when our rights kick in, and we’ll be sharing these plans ahead of next season.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen being interviewed by Flotrack, photo from Ryan Fenton

RunBlogRun, #8: What should consumers know about how Flosports will cover the Diamond League?

Ryan Fenton:  I appreciate you asking this because, as I mentioned earlier, I think our biggest challenge is going to be educating fans about FloTrack and our value proposition.

We are investing in the rights to the Diamond League and the content around it. In fact, live events will only make up a small percentage of what will be a robust content strategy that includes live events, original content, and editorial and social programming. Our mission is to tell the stories of the athletes, the events, key moments throughout the season, and the Diamond League series as a whole. Our goal is to bring the Diamond League to life in the US in a way that no broadcaster has done to date. This approach to coverage is part of the foundation on which FloTrack was built and continues to be our approach today.

Pic from the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, with two guys I hired to work under me at FloTrack years ago….Alex Lohr (now with Hoka) and Chris Chavez (founder of Citius Mag). I’m very proud of the guys I hired as full-time interns in our early years; they are some of the best young ones in the industry today! Alex, Chavez, Justin Britton, Ryan Sterner (Rabbit Wolf Creative). Others like Jake Willard (Track Town) Billy Cvecko, and Taylor Dutch (Runners World) were also part of our team in the earlier years, photo by Ryan Fenton.

We can do this by pulling levers to help elevate awareness of the sport and its athletes uniquely, providing coverage throughout the calendar year. There are so many stories to tell; our team has the finger on the sport’s pulse and knows how to mine these stories.

I also have to add that most of this coverage will be free of any paywall and accessible to track and field fans on our platform and apps, and social media. We think that’s key to growing the sport and building profiles for the athletes who rely on that exposure.

 

RunBlogRun, #9: Many viewers who used to Peacock have responded negatively, and they are now concerned about paying Flosports to see their track meets. How do you respond?

Ryan Fenton: We understand the concerns and plan to share more information about our coverage of the Diamond League as we build toward 2025. FloSports is committed to the success of Track & Field – it was the sport from which our company was built upon almost 18 years ago and is managed by former athletes who are knowledgeable and passionate about the sport. The addition of The Diamond League will give our fans access to nearly 100 live events across the college and pro level with another 250+ across high school track & field, quite simply it will be a total track & field package with robust social and content programming outside of event windows. We are confident in delivering value to fans and supporting the athletes committed to the sport.

I also think it’s important to note that the economics around sports are changing. Media is changing. The traditional broadcast model is in decline and more and more offerings are going to be offered on streaming and through subscription services. We’ve seen it with the MLS and Apple, the NFL on Peacock, Amazon, and, most recently, Netflix. This is a reality, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means we can serve fans in an intentional way and deliver them authentic coverage of a sport like they haven’t seen. We also believe it will allow us and our partners to reinvest in the sport. I recognize that change can cause concern for fans, so we welcome their feedback and questions. The feedback is important to us and we will continue to listen, as well as communicate to fans our plans ahead of next season.

Me and my son Max in August of 2023 (Max was about 14 months old), and we attended an XC reunion run at my HS in Portland, ME…Cheverus High School….Alma mater of Emily Durgin…and also Brian Pettingill (past Millrose champ in 1981) and Colin Peddie (founder of Marathon Sports in Boston), photo courtesy of Ryan Fenton

RunBlogRun, #10: You have now been elevated at Flosports to manage the Diamond League and Continental tour relationships; what does that mean?

Ryan Fenton: My new role as General Manager of Track & field includes all facets of our business, including FloTrack, MileSplit, DirectAthletics, and TFRRS. Regarding FloTrack, the Diamond League and Continental Tour represent key relationships. It is my responsibility to make sure that this is a success on all fronts, not only from a business perspective but also from a viewer, fan, and subscriber perspective. The quality of our broadcasts, the storytelling around the events, the communication with our audience, and more are all areas where we need to excel.

RunBlogRun, #11: What would you like viewers and potential viewers to realize about Flosports taking over the rights to show Diamond League and Continental Tour events in 2025?

Ryan Fenton: We couldn’t be more committed to the sport of Track & Field and its success, and we don’t think there’s a better company out there to cover the sport. The company continues to be led by the founder, Mark Floreani, a steeplechase All-American at the University of Texas. Track is still very much a foundation of FloSports. Furthermore, we’re unique in many respects regarding sports media in that we have an executive team with many former athletes, and many of those who staff our verticals are competitive at the highest levels in the sports they cover. We have skin in the game and a real connection to our sports.

We will present a full range of coverage on all the channels we distribute across, driving consistency and, we think, increasing awareness of Diamond League and Continental Tour.

To say this rights package was a ‘good get’ would be a massive understatement. It’s honestly one of the most exciting moments in my professional career and has introduced a new level of energy to the entire FloTrack team. As a fan and viewer myself, I think people are really going to love the way that we cover the sport in 2025 and beyond.

 

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