>br>In a media conference this morning, Russell Coutts revealed that a major television broadcast deal was imminent for the USA.
Russell Coutts - Oracle Racing
When pressed further Coutts said the deal was with one of the major US TV networks, and was a free to air package.
'Around November last year we gave the teams details of a comprehensive television package, and the events package around the America’s Cup – so the Challengers have some certainty as to what to expect. There is something like 30 broadcasters already signed.
'There is a major television broadcast contract in the final stages of negotiation in the US. It has been quite a complicated discussion. I haven’t been directly involved, but I have been getting reports on progress,' he added.
'This America’s Cup coverage is going to be exceptional in terms of exposure. However these deals to take time to finalize in terms of the details.'
'We all recognize the urgency, and I have been pushing for quite a while to announce something publicly – but the ongoing discussions haven’t really helped that. An announcement will be made soon.
'Frankly I think this will be one of the best, if not the best television broadcasts that the America’s Cup has ever had – certainly in the time that I have been involved.
'I personally think that the changes that we have made to the television production will change the way the world views our sport, and we have made massive changes', he added. 'It has taken time and a lot of effort from people like Stan Honey and his organization , but it has been worth it, and we will see some more changes for Naples (America’s Cup World Series has its next round in Naples, Italy in April).
'Now that the broadcasters have seen the footage, no-one is disputing the quality of the coverage – even from the ACWS events we held last year'
'The free to air broadcaster makes this a significant deal for the US market.'
Turning to the Youtube coverage Coutts said they had 5.8million views off just three ACWS regattas plus associated events, and the America's Cup channel. 'I know that there has been some problems with the Youtube broadcast in New Zealand for example. That conflict has been resolved for the future.'
'Youtube has been fantastic for the Cup. Our 5.8 million viewers is great for just three events, a lot of people think we have been running for years and years, but we have achieved that level of interest off just three events.'
Sail-World will run more from the Russell Coutts media conference later today and tomorrow, together with a second conference given by Regatta Director Iain Murray, yesterday.