The programme

Is the printed event programme a thing of the past?

by Rallycross World |

Just before the racing season begins, a few thoughts about an item that was an essential part of any event, but which seems to be headed for the pages of history; the event programme.

If you’re like us, getting the official programme for any and every event visited was a must. Whether you are the sort to use that programme and then bin it, or the kind to treasure that little book, take it home and file it away in a collection, its absence from events seems to leave a gap.

That gap may, perhaps, be filled by the digital programme, but there is still something about the tactile, physical object that is tough replace with a scrollable, on-your-device experience.

The decline of the printed event programme had begun in 2019, but COVID and events without spectators hastened its demise; without spectators there was no need for a programme. In 2020 the Latvian World RX event was the only one to have fans present and the only one with an event programme.

In 2022 things were back to normal in terms of fans being able to attend races, but of the FIA championship events only Holjes published a physical event programme. Hungary, Norway, Latvia, Portugal and Belgium went down the digital route. Germany and Spain did not bother at all.

We understand the logic from the organiser’s point of view; print is almost certainly the greatest cost component of producing a programme and with sustainability increasingly important judging how many to print, and how to justify destroying many unsold copies after the event (as frequently happens) is very difficult.

Belgium digital programme

Digital can, perhaps, help organisers in this respect, there is no print bill, no physical product to transport, store or recycle. Pushing fans towards the event website to download the digital programme may also have commercial benefits.

Latvia digital programme

But, if programmes are designed to be consumed exclusively as a digital offering, organisers should understand the digital product. It needs to work on a phone, a tablet and also on a laptop. So designing for print with content running over a double page spread makes no sense.

Not providing links in the content within a digital programme is also missing the point, why can’t fans click on an advert in the programme and visit the advertiser’s website, or get a discount code, view video, etc.?

If digital programmes are the future, and they probably are, they should embrace all the digital possibilities and benefits and not just be a PDF of a print layout that never made it to printing press.

But we love print and will celebrate the physical programme where it continues to exist.

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