With all the shifting of television rights and sponsorship titles around the world of motorsports, it has become more and more apparent that no one knows whether we are going to be able to watch our beloved motorcycle racing on TV with any consistency anymore. It feels like every other week there is a change to which channel we were going be able to watch the races on, and at what times. What’s even worse was how many laps we actually get to see aired. What they considered TV coverage for a race was only small fraction of it, like a highlights reel . Forget any hopes for watching any of the racing live!
Recently, I received a phone call from a friend asking if I knew when and where the first WSBK race in Phillip Island was going to air on local TV, to which I pathetically sputtered out an unfortunate “I really don’t know.” We subscribed to the new SBK VideoPass this year hoping to get some consistency in our lives and didn’t think twice about local TV coverage. In addition to wanting to help a friend out, I now wanted to know myself and so I began searching for information, chatter, or anything to quash my curiosity. Thinking it was going to be an extensive search and significant compiling of information like my calendar, I was happily disappointed when the second result on my search popped up a page from CycleNews… Motorcycle Racing TV Listings! Thank you, Paul Carruthers for being an infinite number of steps ahead of me!
Though a limited schedule, through no fault of CycleNews, it was nice to see that at least beIN Sports, MavTV, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and Velocity still tolerably supported some two-wheeled races! Some stations are obviously better than others with their coverage! BeIN Sports airing the WSBK Phillip Island race within 24 hours of the actual race is what I consider better and Fox Sports 1 airing the January 10-12 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross Baltimore race in March is, well, you can guess what the latter is! That being said, how can I complain, when this is compared to the currently nonexistence of the AMA Pro Road Racing television coverage. I don’t even want to get started on why the only Pro Race series in the US is not being aired, especially when they only scheduled a meager 5 rounds. I am completely dumbfounded by that still, especially with the Daytona 200 just around the corner. Not getting sidetracked by AMA, I was originally just writing to thank CycleNews about their listing. Thank you CycleNews!
After the WSBK Phillip Island Round this past weekend, I’m not sure if I can give the SBK VideoPass five stars either. They appear to use the same video playback software as MotoGP’s VideoPass but it seems that they still need to work out the kinks! When we logged in hoping to watch Superpole 1 and 2 on Saturday after the races and all the media outlets were reporting results and all the riders were already tweeting about it, to our dismay, only Superpole 2 was available to watch. The second race was available but not the first race. None of the Free Practice rounds were available either, even though there was a little icon there to suggest it would light up and let you watch it after the sessions were over. Apparently, it was just a tease. The rest of the weekend was a similar let down, though they did make the races available later in what I consider to be an acceptable amount of time. We thought to go about our weekend and hope that maybe the videos would magically appear later on, which Superpole 1 did, but not the Free Practices, Warm-ups, or Qualifying for SSP. Even as I look now while writing this, the coverage has remained the same sans Free Practices, Warm-ups and Qualifying.
I suppose we are getting what we paid for. Considering the MotoGP VideoPass costs twice as much, I expect we are getting half the videos with the SBK VideoPass. The MotoGP VideoPass Season MultiScreen + Off Season package is $192.40(139,95€) and the SBK VideoPass is $96.10(69,90€). Being an optimist, I am hoping that since this is the first phase of their video system that they will make improvements to the service as the season progresses, or that the limited amount of sessions available is related to potentially exorbitant costs to export digital data from Australia. To be fair, I would much rather tolerate the shortcomings of the VideoPasses than try to figure out how to subscribe to all the cable channels to be able watch the TV airings.
As an optimist, I am also still hoping that AMA Pro Road Racing will be aired somewhere, and in a time slot where advertising can be sold more effectively for sponsors! Crossing my fingers and toes now! Sigh.