Sunday, September 18, 2011

TV Coverage

On New Years Day in 1996 gearheads and motorsport fans got a late Christmas present in the form of an automotive based TV network called Speedvision.  It became the fastest growing cable network of all-time and offered the greatest variety of motorsport events on television.  In 2002 it was relaunched as Speed Channel after a huge deal including FOX.  It was at this point that the motorsport fans who had watched the channel voraciously began complaining - loudly.

I've said before that the largest hurdles for race organizers at The Circuit of the Americas to overcome are awareness of the sport and the lack of interest in road racing here in America.  The Speed Channel is the perfect example of this problem.  Speedvision aired an immense variety of racing series from all over the world including; ALMS, World Rally Championship, V8 Supercars, World Touring Cars, British Touring Cars, SCCA races, DTM and a variety of motorcycle racing just to name a few.  Other programs like Lap of the Gods covered the history of Formula 1 at different tracks through the eyes of the great drivers.  It was exactly what was needed to fuel interest in racing series other than NASCAR.  That was until it became the Speed Channel.

Now the Speed Channel is mostly NASCAR - a sport that's broadcast heavily on other channels.  Their other programs are a variety of boring reality shows that have little to do with racing.  The American Le Mans Series and World Rally Championship are no longer broadcast on Speed.  The majority of Formula 1 races continue to be broadcast but a few races are now broadcast on FOX, even though practice and qualifying for those same races are on Speed.  This leads to confusion and frustration for fans.  In the end the conversion to Speed has done nothing but road racing culture here in America, creating a longer road for the success of Formula 1 in America.

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