UNITED STATES – Virtual Competitions, a reality that is sinking in across the country for all star teams around the world. COVID-19 is still affecting every corner of the globe in some capacity from limitations in crowd size to varying mask mandates. All Star gyms have come to the realization that ‘virtual competitions‘ may be the only viable alternative as the season gets underway. Fortunately, a host of event producers have supplemented their offerings to enable a non-traditional start to the competitive season. In Virtual Competitions, Winners Losers, and Misses we have explored the offerings of the top five U.S. based event producers entering into this niche market. While the companies vary greatly in Cost, Spectator Experience, and Competition Authenticity – having options is never a problem.
Virtual Competition Cost Comparisons
Under the grip of COVID-19 and varying levels of restriction across the United States, Canada, and other countries, cheerleading gyms across the globe are faced with the same question… “are Virtual Competitions worth it?” the long and short answer, is “YES.” Cheerleaders thrive in a competitive environment, and the sudden stop to the 2019-2020 season (in March) left many athletes feeling shorted in terms of the experience that is craved. Will Virtual Competitions satisfy the thirst to compete fully? No, but they can act as a bridge back to “normal”.
Virtual Competitions will provide a vital outlet for the hard work, that is happening in gyms across the globe, while we patiently wait to return to large venues and in person events. With events ranging from CheerMatch.Live as low as $18.00 per/athlete to Spirit Championships’ $79.00 per/athlete bundle package, value will take center stage as gym owners and program directors navigate the world of Virtual Competitions.
Virtual Competition Cost Winners
CheerMatch.Live, with a promised fixed price, earns the number one spot for lowest cost Virtual Competition. The company features fixed per/team pricing, and offers discounts for return customers, but advertises a per/athlete cost as low as just $18.00.
Pricing Example from CheerMatch.Live: Extra Small Teams (Worlds Only) $320.00 per/match or $290.00 per/match (for 2+ matches), Small Teams $440.00 per/match or $400.00 per/match (for 2+ matches), Medium Teams $600.00 per/match or $540.00 per/match (for 2+ matches), and Large Teams $750.00 per/match or $690.00 per/match (for 2+matches).
Cheerleading has not seen mainstream events in a per/team pricing model for years (if not decades). Newcomer, CheerMatch.Live looks to reset many of the out of control costs associated with All Star Cheerleading.
Rockstar On Demand
Rockstar Championships On Demand events at $35.00 per/athlete on the surface are not as attractive, when compared to $18.00 per/athlete. Unique amongst Virtual Competition event producers, the company creatively structured pricing to max out at $450.00 per/team (regardless of number of athletes competing). Similar to competitor CheerMatch.Live, Rockstar Championships On Demand events offer return incentives for multiple events, offering three virtual events for $99.00 per/athlete or $1,200 per/team (whichever is less).
Virtual Competition Cost Misses
At $79.00 per/athlete, Spirit Championships, leaves customers with a lack of choice to solely enter a Virtual Competition. The $79.00 pricing includes (1) Virtual Competition & (1) Traditional in-person Event
Virtual Competition Authenticity
The year twenty-twenty finds competitive cheerleading searching for viable options to surrogate our normal, while we wait to return to regular play and in-person events. Yes, our industry is fortunate in the fact that we have options to supplement the season, however, not all Virtual Competitions are created equally. Prior to this season, we attend events, events where hundreds or thousands of fans get to witness routines. Yes, we have tons of witnesses (spectators) to the good, the bad, and sometimes the downright horrifying routines (lets be honest, we’ve a all been there).
Virtual Competitions extract teams and their performances from venues (because we’re unable to gather), and allow them to compete… or perform their routines from their own gyms. With Virtual Competitions, maintaining authenticity of the competition component means striking a balance between competition and gym-show. The absence of a large and authenticating crowd to witness the performance leads many to immediately doubt results (like that did not already happen at in-person events anyway).
Virtual Competition Authenticity Winners
CheerMatch.Live again leads in securing the competition experience, and making virtual match-ups the most authentic Virtual Competition on the market. CheerMatch.Live is the only competition platform in the industry with a verifiable submission process for participating teams. All teams that participate must utilize the CheerMatch CAPTURE app to record their routine submissions. Only routines performed live can captured through the app, and teams are limited to just 2 attempts with one coach selected submission for scoring.
eCheer Virtual Live Events
Capitalizing on the Virtual Event (compete from home) model, eCheer Virtual Live Events looks to legitimize the competition experience by assigning teams fixed performance times to simulate a in-person performance order. Event Director, Kendall Hanberry says, “we are pushing it to where it events could even make it a family event with food trucks, pro shops etc.”
At Spirit Championships, injecting the Live (or at least real-time) component back into competing aides in legitimizing the routine being submitted for competition. Speaking to event partner, Kevin Jones, “teams will be assigned a set time for competing (at their home gym), in addition to having specific check-in and warm-up times.” Spirit Championships looks to synchronize teams competing at home, while synchronizing their performances into live (in-person) events where they can occur.
Virtual Competition Authenticity Losers
Varsity All Star
The Varsity All Star series of Virtual Competitions removes the Live component all-together. With a series of fixed dates and submission windows, the event producer will allow teams entering to upload their own video pre-recorded at their home facility. The competition component that is lacking with this setup allows for teams to record one or an unlimited amount of times prior to uploading the video for scoring. Varsity All Star does include a safety net, where teams will be required to verbalize a “code word” specific to that week’s event (closing in time frame for which the video was recorded), but that does nothing to negate the fact that the pressure to execute a routine successfully is not present as you have unlimited takes.
Similar to Varsity All Star, Rockstar Championships On-Demand events seeks to provide options for teams unable to gather or compete in person. However, mirroring the pre-record without limitations model of Varsity, Rockstar Championships too, lacks the authenticating process that is achieved through in-person events. Teams have the ability to record routines, until they are satisfied with the take prior to submission.
Virtual Competition Spectator Experience
Cost, Cost, Cost… the perpetual gripe of spectators in the competitive cheerleading industry. While teams are being removed from big venues across the country, spectators may be reveling in the ability to save on the high costs associated with witnessing just two-minutes and thirty seconds per/day. The spectator experience across Virtual Competitions both mock each other and vary drastically in terms of cost. The justification of spending, will likely be dictated by who these Virtual Competitions can attract to their platforms.
Virtual Competition Spectator Experience Winners
Rockstar Championships will stream their broadcasts on their website. There will be ZERO cost associated with watching the events for spectators. The event producer promises a TV-like show, with divisions and awards being scheduled at certain times throughout the broadcast.
CheerMatch.Live promises weekly broadcast with all routine videos from the match, score announcements, and special interest segments. CheerMatch LIVE broadcasts are completely FREE to watch, and routine videos can be later accessed from a video on demand library for a small fee. At a cost of $6.99 per/month, CheerMatch.Live video on demand is priced in line with other streaming services like Netflix, and Disney +.
Virtual Competition Spectator Experience Losers
Varsity All Star
With two types of membership, Varsity All Star’s platform, Varsity TV, can be billed monthly at $29.99 per/month, or annually at $149.99. All of the brands Virtual Competition Series will be hosted on Varsity TV, with one login being given to a coach per/team registered. Varsity TV subscribers will be able to watch the event in its entirety via the website’s On Demand technology, with awards being FREE to all viewers on Varsity TV.
eCheer Live Virtual Events
Similar to Varsity All Star, eCheer, will offer gyms one free login for viewing purposes. Spectators of the event can purchase for a low (yet to be determined) fee. More information about the eCheer Live Virtual Events model will be available on the company’s website.
Spirit Championships promises a virtual viewing option for spectators. At the time of publication, the brand still had not finalized pricing, but expects it to be less than that of attending a one-day in-person event (which runs between $10.00 and $25.00 normally.)
Learn more about Virtual Event options..
There are more options than ever to meet the needs, expectations, flexibility, and budget of gyms across the globe. Learn more about the Virtual Events that will take center stage as the competitive cheer industry looks to coexist in a COVID-19 plagued world.
The Denver, CO based start-up bills itself as ‘purposefully designed for virtual competition’. With patented pending software, specifically designed to legitimize and simplify the user experience, CheerMatch.Live is aimed at checking as many boxes as possible for competitors and spectators.
Visit them online: www.cheermatch.live
The Dallas, TX based event producer, who prior to COVID-19 focused on traditional “brick and mortar” in-person events. The Spirit Championships morphed their competition model to permit gyms to compete from their own facilities, but simultaneously in “real-time” with traditional events permitted to continue under ‘coronavirus’ guidelines.
Visit them online: www.thespiritchampionships.com
Varsity All Star
Cheerleading’s behemoth brand of events, Varsity All Star, was forced to creatively re-invent their normal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The Memphis, TN based conglomerate of events created a virtual series of events to run early October through mid November, as the company awaits more regions to come back online and permit in-person events on a more regular basis.
Visit them online: www.varsity.com
eCheer Virtual Live Events
The Mississippi based Deep South Spirit unveiled their eCheer Virtual Live Events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The eCheer Series promises a high level production show edited by the same company who produce the eSports products.
Visit them online: www.echeerevents.com
Rockstar On Demand
Oklahoma City, OK based event producer, Rockstar Championships, joins other traditional events in shifting models to accommodate the needs of an industry plagued by ‘coronavirus’ limitations. Rockstar On Demand, touts flexibility for gyms to compete when they want and are able to compete.
Visit them online: www.rockstarchampionships.com