Since 2000, the start of major TV shows devoted to the building of custom motorcycles , It has been the question that everybody working or having any interest in the motorcycle industry has asked himself, to his peers, collaborators, clients and friends? Overall, do we benefit? Evidently, there is no doubt that those whose work has been exposed to the public at large through these shows, not only builders but also part vendors, have benefited, short or long term. Both in terms of notoriety, image and sometimes big money, fat checks for TV appearance, royalties, merchandising, sponsorship, etc (for sure, Jesse James, all The Teutul family got all of the above)
During these last 11 years, no meeting, no rally, no trade show where this topic is not debated between professionals. Criticizing or lamenting that most of this TV shows disappeared. I must say that I have heard everything from the extra positive (motorcycle exposure in TV shows gave birth to a completely new market of bikers; more bikes ordered and parts sold; more attendance in rallies, in bike shows etc), to the very negative (it attracted very opportunists businessmen; it created a new breed of over-hyped custom builders and of “motorcycle fashion enthusiasts”; it projected a poor and distorted representation of our industry, of our daily professional lives, of the way custom bikes are built, etc.) Of course, many nuance their answers depending of the TV show you mention. For example, mention Motorcycle Mania, Biker Build-Off and American Chopper and for each show you will get very different reactions from the same person, again from the very positive to the very negative to the “it has absolutely no influence on my business”
During these last days all the custom industry, bikers (and non-bikers loving to watch the Teutuls duel on the Discovery Channel) have eagerly waited for the big custom building skills confrontation between Jesse James, Paul Jr. and Sr. in last Monday’s and Tuesday’s Discover Channel Chopper Live Build-Off. You know the result, and whatever it is, the question is again “will the industry benefit? Will such an heavily advertised TV event raise a new interest in motorcycling, in custom bike building, will help sell more bikes and more parts, incite youngsters to join our sport? Or is it all reality show with no substance and no effect on the custom motorcycle industry?
As of today, the only thing I know for sure, and you all noticed, is the tremendous interest that this TV competition has created in my Blog. Just look at the number of comments under each of my articles related to the Discovery 3-way build-off. But what you don’t see is the volume of extra traffic that converged to my website during the last days, either supporting or criticizing with passion the event and its 3 competitors.
Look at the traffic numbers in graph below. They come from Google Analytics tracking with sharp accuracy my number of visitors (by opposition to HITS which are only the number of graphics, images,text links served when a page is opened), minute after minute, day after day. As a reference, during the last 12-month period my website is visited at an average of 13,900 individuals per day. My traffic spikes, usually almost doubling for a few days to around 22,000 visitors per day, each time I publish breaking news like the Billy Lane sentencing, Big Dog Motorcycles Bankruptcy, West Coast Choppers closing or Bear Bear Choppers closing its business, etc. Knowing that weekends (from Friday morning to Sunday evening) are always, for evident reasons, the lowest traffic days for all major internet news organizations, look at what happened on my website because of this Discovery Channel TV event.
Friday December 2: Exclusive interview Jesse James. 18,386 visitors (32% traffic increase). Saturday December 3: 9903 visitors. Sunday December 4: 9061 visitors. Monday December 5: I announce the 1st part of build-off TV show. 32,866 visitors (236% increase) . Tuesday December 6: I announce 2nd part of build-off TV show. 56,197 visitors (404% traffic increase). Wednesday December 7. I announce the build-off winner.35768 visitors (251% traffic increase) A record 921 new readers also subscribed to my daily RSS feed during the same 6- day period! Most of new visitors come from major search engines (78% from Google), Twitter, Facebook (where I am not present by professional choice)
Not difficult to guess that, thanks to the big return of Jesse James on TV, the Discovery American Chopper Live Build-Off had its best show ever with an absolute record of viewers. The companies I write about, my sponsors and advertisers, all gained extra exposure, got more click through to their websites via text links or banners. Twice more readers in only one day that the stated number of monthly readers of the largest American V-Twin print magazine is of course something I am proud of, but the main purpose of this article is to ask:
1- To all of you non professional readers who are bikers, if such a TV show incites you to ride more, to customize more, to start building a bike for yourself, to buy more parts, etc. 2- To all those working in the industry, if you think that, in one way or the other, it will help you do more business. And if it’s not the type of TV show you want, what content would you like? I remind you that Jesse James told me last week that he will start shooting a new TV show in January for the Discovery Channel. It seems that its content is still somewhat flexible. So, what would you really like to watch? What would benefit all of you, individuals and professionals? (pictures @Discovery Channel)