Monday, June 20, 2011

When TV race coverage goes bad

Speed Channel cover Formula 1 racing - they have done ever since we moved to America. Occasionally though, Fox will cherry-pick a race and show it on their channel instead. The good news is that they keep the Speed Channel commentary team. The bad news is that they destroy the race by starting coverage after the race has started (missing the start and the run to the first corner), going to commercial every 11 minutes no matter what, and filling the screen with so many Fox popup promos that it's hard to see the cars or racing.
OLN do the same thing to the Dakar rally each year. They're the only network that broadcast the event and they cram it into 30 minutes a day. There's four commercial breaks, local-interest features that nobody is interested in, and when they finally get to the racing, they show the motorbikes and the cars and that's it. They barely mention the trucks, the quad bikes, or any of the non-mainstream teams (the independents).
The icing on this little turd-cake is that the BBC cover all these events but if you don't live in the UK, you can't use their on-demand service to watch any of it. Even if you pay for BBC channels on your satellite or cable service.
I'd like to believe that the US channels would learn a thing or two about motorsports but if it's not NASCAR they're just not interested.


Vlado said...

I live in Germany and I don't like the coverage of F1 on the German TV very much. I mean it is not that bad as you said, but still it cannot be compared to the BBC coverage (Jake, Eddie and David are a really good team together and I just love the grid walk of Martin Brundle). So that's why I just pay for a UK proxy server and than I can watch the race on the BBC website, because it is free if you are in UK. I can recommend you - I use it for more then an year now and the connection is pretty stable. It costs me $5 mer month, but it is worth it for me :)

David said...

Frankly, the monkeys doing the programming are not the monkeys you need to be concerned about.

I remember a golden age of rallying coverage on Speed. You got, for each of the event's three days, a same-day edited one hour program which included the highlights from all the days stages, mandatory close-ups from the day's accidents, and an amount of un-edited in-car footage from the competitive cars which frankly can only be described as "gratuitous".

Want to guess what the ratings were?

Later on during one of the annual howling of dismay over the Dakar coverage, one of the head programming monkeys for Speed went on one of his forums and explained that really they wanted to do quality coverage of international racing -- but frankly a re-run of "Nascar Garage" draws more viewers than decent coverage of the Dakar did.

Advertising follows the viewers, and programming follows the advertising.

Chris said...

Yeah. God forbid Fox should cut NASCAR coverage short when it overruns :-(

Jon said...

I used to love watching speedvision. They literally covered all forms of racing. I've watched speed boats, dakar rally, FULL 24 hrs of lemans, there was even big rig racing. When Fox took over and renamed it speed channel was when it slowly went to crap. Now they might as well call it the nascar channel.