All Over the Worlds

Published in Ultimatum 2013

This summer, an incredible number of people came together to raise over $15,000 to enable online video coverage of the World Games. Mike Palmer from ulti.TV tells us the story of how he started a global campaign from his home in Adelaide.

It was during my first meeting with WFDF Executive Director Volker Bernardi and some other WFDF heavies at the 2012 World Ultimate and Guts Championship (WUGC) in Japan that I heard about the World Games event in Cali, Colombia. I remember the meeting well: it was the end of a long day in humid weather, and we were carrying the ulti.TV HighView cameras and computers from field to field. I remember being distinctly unshaven, underdressed, dirty and sweaty. But it was good to finally put faces to names that I had seen on emails in the lead-up. I also had the privilege of meeting the WUGC tournament director, Masakazu Honda – one of the first Japanese superstar Ultimate players, and often considered the “godfather of Japanese Ultimate”.

I was handed a very sparse and general World Games flyer about the event and given some encouragement to contact the organisers. This flyer largely sat forgotten, but I knew the tournament was coming up, and it sounded like a fantastic excuse to go to South America and film some Ultimate!

As the date came closer, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations on how I could get over there and film. Flights from Adelaide were about 3,200AUD (about £1,800) each way per person, not including excess baggage or equipment fees. Yikes! This put an end to that plan – bear in mind that ulti.TV, an online TV network dedicated to the sport of Ultimate, at the best of times, runs on the smell of an oily rag (or my personal bank account).

Undeterred by this initial setback, we started a conversation with Volker Bernardi about how to gain access and permission to get into the venues to film, and whether there was any money available to help fund a trip over there. Unfortunately, Volker explained that due to the high costs of the World Games, there was no extra money for video coverage. We thought this was a shame, because the World Games only rolls around once every four years, and events like these are the best means of showcasing our sport.

It was looking hopeless that we would be able to get over there to provide coverage. So I went for a change of plan, thinking that perhaps some US-based Ultimate media company would snap up this opportunity to film some awesome Ultimate.

Meanwhile, I had an idea to try to team up with a local Colombian to help us get some coverage, thinking that if I was lucky, I might be able to get an Aussie who was going over there to take an ulti.TV computer – and then we’d be in business!

We had previously made a highlight reel of Julio Duque, a Colombian who was currently playing in Australia, for him to send to the Colombian team coach, in a bid to make the Colombian World Games team. In exchange, I asked him for the contact details of a local Colombian who might be able to help us out.

Enter Rafael Araoz, who had experience working for an advertising and media company in Colombia. He was keen to help shoot some footage in Cali and provide some coverage of Ultimate. We started making plans to hire a camera and microphones from his company and fly him to Cali. That was early March 2013 – four months to go.

Unfortunately, after all this effort, WFDF advised us that a local broadcaster had acquired exclusive rights to broadcast the events, so the World Games organisers had banned all unofficial coverage. It seemed that, despite all our best-laid plans, we were shut out.

Disappointingly, we also found out that the coverage schedule provided for only three games of Ultimate (out of a possible 17). Volker sent us the rate card for the local broadcaster and it was $13,500 to have every game streamed live online through the official World Games website. This was actually very cheap for a multi-camera production and certainly cheaper than us trying to fly a crew over to South America.

At ulti.TV, we thrive on making stuff like this happen at the eleventh hour. We went back to Volker and suggested a crowd-funding campaign to raise the money. At this point the deadline for booking the local broadcaster had just passed, so we needed WFDF to negotiate an extension and agree to the campaign.

This led to a few nervous days waiting for a WFDF response. We finally got an email from Volker who had been granted the extension, meaning we had the green light to go ahead. This was Friday 12 July; the deadline to book the local broadcaster was Monday 15 July! We had just days to pull it together.

We reached out to you for help. At the last count, the international Ultimate community was in the millions. If everyone could contribute a bit, we could get professional footage of all the games to anyone with internet access.

We created a page using the indiegogo website – a crowd-funding platform where people can pledge money for campaigns – called Broadcast of Ultimate at the World Games 2013. “We want the host World Games TV broadcaster in Cali to video ALL of the Ultimate competition and stream it online for free,” was our description. Our goal of $15,000 (to pay for coverage and related fees) was a lot of money, and we weren’t sure if we could make it happen. But we shared this site with everyone we knew, to nag, cajole and beg people to donate. Dan Clenton, ulti.TV’s social media champion, deserves a big shout-out for promoting this far and wide and getting the momentum started. Our friends passed it on… and their friends passed it on… and the money started coming in!

The Ultimate community is amazing. Over 700 people donated, and we raised $15,570 with eight hours to spare! This provided the $13,500 needed for the coverage and paid for the PayPal, indiegogo and international transfer fees to get the money to Cali.

Thanks again to everyone for your support!

While ulti.TV weren’t there on the ground in Cali, we were there in spirit, and kept everyone up-to-date on the broadcast and streaming. It was a wonderful success story thanks to so many passionate Ultimate players who, like us, wanted to see coverage of our sport played at its highest level.

Our mission at ulti.TV is to grow the sport of Ultimate. We believe that Ultimate is currently under-represented in the media, and that there is a lack of coverage of the game. We think that, by offering high-quality coverage, we can grow the sport of Ultimate.

Mike Palmer