Insight Richard Craill December 4, 2023 (Comments off) (668)

A message to Motorsport TV viewers

RIGHTO, race fans, it’s time to have a grown-up conversation about motorsport.

Or, more to the point, the way we consume it.

News today that the Shannons SpeedSeries will be broadcast exclusively live and free on the Seven Network, with coverage split between their 7plus streaming app and the more regular broadcast networks, is another win for motorsport fans.

It means there’s now a remarkable amount of motorsport that in 2024 will be free for you to view.

No subscriptions. No monthly price. Just live and free motorsport.

Which if you read the internet comments is apparently, parity and well-secured manhole covers aside, one of the few things people really, truly, passionately want from motorsport these days.

What it means now is that there remains little room for excuses.

No room excuses from people complaining about having to pay to watch their sport or teams complaining they can’t sell sponsorship for the same reason.

So let’s surmise, shall we? Here’s what is currently confirmed to be on free to air next year.

  • 7/12 Supercars rounds (Bathurst 500, Grand Prix (Channel 10), Darwin, Townsville, Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast and Adelaide) on the Seven Network
  • A majority of Super2/3, half of Carrera Cup and key races from Toyota 86, SuperUtes and other Supercars Supports
  • Bathurst 1000 (Channel 7)
  • Bathurst 12 Hour (Channel 7)
  • Bathurst International (via SpeedSeries on 7 / 7+)
  • Australian Formula 1 and Moto Grands Prix (Channel 10 / 10play)
  • Shannons SpeedSeries, including all of TCR and GT World Challenge Australia, most of Trans Am plus all the other categories on the SpeedSeries slate in 2024 (7 / 7+)
  • Australian Rally Championship (7 / 7+)
  • Australian Off Road Championship (7 / 7+)
  • National Drag Racing Championship (7 / 7+)
  • Lots of Speedway, as documented on TRT (7 / 7+)
  • AASA Superseries (SBS / SBS on demand)
  • ASBK (SBS / SBS on demand + free streaming)
  • Victorian State Circuit Racing Championship (Blend Line TV)
  • Loads of other cool stuff including, I note, water skiing! (Blend Line TV)

Add to that the Bathurst 6 Hour will be shown free-to-air (with a network yet to be confirmed) meaning all Bathurst majors will be free to view, and then there’s probably a host of other content I’ve not listed.

So, what is left behind a paywall now?

  • Supercars rounds in New Zealand, Perth, Sydney, Tasmania and the Sandown 500 (Fox + Kayo)
  • Formula 1, outside of the AGP (Fox + Kayo)
  • NASCAR (Probably on Fox + Kayo)
  • IndyCar (Stan Sport)
  • WRC (Stan Sport)
  • World Endurance Championship / Le Mans 24 (Stan Sport)

On balance, they’re worth the investment especially if you, like me, want to torture yourself with another season of Verstappen donging everyone else – but perhaps more importantly see when Oscar wins his first race or to see how SVG goes full-time in the USA.

And I’ve paid several thousand dollars to see the Indy 500 before so a few hundred to keep Stan is a fair investment (especially when Scotty Mc wins it next year) – but then I’m in the fortuitous position to be able to afford it. I get that some aren’t so in that case, IndyCar’s excellent and timely extended highlights on YouTube might do just fine.

So those aside, It’s a pretty convincing slate that you no longer need to fork out for, right?

The point of all this is simple: If you like all this, it’s now up to you to watch it.

If you were one of the people who bitched and moaned about Stan Sports having all the SpeedSeries or the fact that three hours a weekend on Nine wasn’t enough (despite it being more than most get, but anyway..) this is your chance.

If you were a team complaining about a lack of eyeballs because your racing was behind a paywall, it’s time to go and sell this deal to your sponsors.

Free to air! Australia’s #1 network! Bonanza! Give us more money!

There’s no excuses, but be aware that this also might be your last big chance.

As NASCAR’s new TV deal has shown, the time of the streamers continues to rise quicker than a Las Vegas strip manhole cover.

The US motorsport behemoth has just sold five exclusive races to Amazon for their next rights deal and while that lasts for seven years but I bet you anything when they renegotiate there will be much more.

IndyCar has two races exclusive to Peacock – NBC’s streaming platform – and you only need to look at the NFL (who have sold their Thursday night package in its entirety to Amazon) to see where things are heading. And where the US leads in TV, we tend to follow – although there’s an argument that with Kayo, we’re actually a long way in front.

Now, the SpeedSeries may indeed have jumped too early – despite the budget provided allowing for a level of production quality that TCR, Trans Am and the other categories would otherwise dream of, but then again I’m biased.

Still, the enviable position we find ourselves in heading into 2024 places us in an increasingly rare and frankly, privileged position and I do not believe it will last.

The chance of a free to air network having the ability and wherewithal to compete with the streamers and grab almost the entire sport like Channel 7 has next year will only diminish as time marches on, not increase.

So the message here really is simple: Watch it. Watch it all.

Show James Warburton that his commitment to getting 95% of motorsport on free to air can pay off by drawing eyeballs to his network.

Watch it live on Channel 7 or the AGP on Channel 10 or watch it on demand via their digital channels.

Build a Blend Line TV playlist on YouTube and run it in the background of your computer 24/7. Don’t even watch, I don’t care (though you should, it’s great) – but give them the eyeballs as proof people care.

Show these organisations that you want to watch motorsport via a free platform so they can justify the cost to their advertisers, so they can get more from them and therefore keep investing in it.

Motorsport on TV is incredibly expensive to produce and it survives by the broadcasters (or categories and promoters, if they’re the ones paying) attracting enough eyeballs to the product to justify the cost.

The alternative is paying for it with cash money and not having adverts.

Very, very rarely do you get it for free without ads.

It’s really that simple.

Because otherwise, the uniquely expensive nature of our sport means that when Amazon, Disney, Paramount or Apple comes along with a large cheque with many, many zeroes on the end, the sport is going to jump and unlike this time, there probably won’t be any looking back.

Certainly, it’s unlikely NASCAR will be too concerned about people not watching on Amazon with their nice and new $7bn+ TV contract all signed, sealed and delivered.

And unless you watch now – when there is no cost at all to you aside from a government-regulated time per hour suffering through some commercials – the only person to blame when the next promoter takes the cash and switches to a streaming service, will be yourself.

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