Should I pay FloClimbing to watch Dark Horse Bouldering Series finals?

by Igor

Friday Jan 20. Here I am sitting alone in my empty house. I wish I was in Boston with my son, but someone has to work, someone has to pay for tickets from West to East coast, and for tons of other things including $50 event registration fee for Dark Horse. But it is all right, I am doing it for the love of climbing. Actually, I feel like I do a lot of things for the love of climbing and to support climbing community and industries, I spend significant amount of money for all climbing related things, just couple days ago $200 to USAC for youth Nationals, month ago another ~$200 to USAC for youth divisionals, ropes, shoes, climbing gym fees and etc. I do not want to bore you, ask any parent who has climbing kid, it is pretty demanding financially.

Anyway, I am searching Internet trying to find how to watch video stream of Dark Horse comp. The very first result in Google search tells me that FloClimbing provides the video stream. home page also says that FloClimbing provides live stream. Nice! I am all set for tomorrow to watch the comp. Next I search more about Dark Horse and FloClimbing (just to get a whole picture for myself) and find two interesting videos.

In this interview Dave, who is one of the original creators of Dark Horse, says very right words, that the comp is for climbers to get together and have fun time, that it is not about new walls and fancy holds, but about the spirit, energy, psyche, for the love of climbing in other words. I like it very much.

In second video Bryan Rafferty from FloClimbing/FloSports says how much they like climbing and want to help climbing to grow, make it “legitimate” and generally do great things for the love of climbing. Sounds good, except I have not initially paid attention to him saying “subscription based … pumping money into the industry”.

Then I get to the instructions on how to watch tomorrow live stream and notice that I have to open an account on FloClimbing. In the process of opening new account I am asked to pay $20 monthly for the subscription. Wait a second. But I do not want any subscriptions, I just want to watch one event. Hmm.

Considering all my climbing related spendings $20 does not seem much, so should I pay? What do you think? Are you paying FloClimbing? Do you like their contents?

I have more questions.

Does FloClimbing really help climbing community or just want to make their profit? If climbing kids can’t watch climbing events video for free, then who is FloClimbing target audience? Dirtbags living in vans?

Judging by a) how many spectators climbing events usually attract in US , b) number of views on Youtube for something like US Bouldering Open event and c) me asking people in the gym if they watch any climbing comp videos, there is not that many people who are interested in watching climbing comps. The truth is that your regular indoor climber does not care much about not-his-local-gym competitions and does not watch them, he better goes climbing. Another truth is that only climbers can watch climbing comp, for others it is as boring as hell. It is not like baseball or basketball, general population does not have any interest (at the moment) in watching climbing comps. Will climbers pay FloClimbing to watch videos? I am not sure. What do you think?

Was it right decision for Dark Horse organizers to hook up with FloClimbing? Time will show, but I personally am not sure. Now days it is enough to have few cheap cameras and Youtube account to stream video; it would work for me, I just want to see climbers climb, nothing fancy is needed. Is $50 dollars per climber really that little that they can’t put a camera? USAC found a way with LT11 to stream climbing comps for free, if Dark Horse is now part of USAC cup series then why not to cooperate and use LT11?

Will it help to popularize Dark Horse outside US as Bryan said? Are climbers outside US willing to give their credit card information and $20 to see Dark Horse? I am not sure.

Will it help to popularize Dark Horse in local climbing communities? Pay $20 to see your buddy online? It could be cheaper to actually come to the gym and save money for beer.

Climbing is more than sport, it is a lifestyle and very spiritual activity. For decades climbing facilities and comps did not make big money and relied on people enthusiasm and love for climbing. Climbing may not necessary follow the same path as other sports and not all business models working for other sports may work for climbing as a sport. Not like in other popular sports where money come from passive spectators, in climbing climbers pay active role, their money support climbing gyms, comps and gear manufacturers. The understanding of this fact is perhaps the most crucial key for any climbing business to succeed.

I am not against of bringing money into the sport and making it “legitimate”, but after climbing got into 2020 Olympics it seems like more and more entrepreneurs want to jump on the bandwagon in attempt to make some money and not because they care about climbing.

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