BT Sport: MotoGP Coverage Uncovered
Since the news broke that the live rights to the events were in BT’s hands there has been a lot of concern and hand-wringing about our beloved sport.
After spending an hour listening and talking to all the main players in this coverage, Londonbikers.com can report that you will most certainly be getting what you pay for.
The basic format is thus:
Live coverage of practice, qualification, warm-up and the race for Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP. That’s roughly 5 hrs on the Friday, 6hrs both Saturday and Sunday.
Then, on the following Tuesday evening there’ll be an hour long show from BT’s studios with a very different agenda to a mere ‘highlights show’.
Added to all that is a very very special online service via the BT Sport app (1.7mill downloads so far) which will offer 7 different views during the race. There’ll be 4 onboard views, a helicopter view, live tracking and results views.
In detail, the race weekend shows will be presented by Melanie Sykes alongside former British and World Superbike Champions Neil Hodgson and James Toseland.
Julian Ryder and Keith Huewen are legends in the commentary booth and they’ll be trackside for every round along with reporter Gavin Emmett who’ll be doing the grid walks and getting in people’s faces.
The shows will be a mix of studio discussions with feed to and from the track. This is a far superior format to the previous trackside interview techniques where no-one could hear what was being said.
Simon Green, head of BT Sport: “It’s really exciting to be launching such a thrilling new sport. It’s massive in the UK and we’re heading into it at full throttle. We’re sure we’ll appeal to committed fans but we also think we will win over and welcome new fans to the sport.”
The hour long Tuesday night show will run at 8pm on Tuesdays after each race weekend. Presented by BT Sports's Craig Doyle and former Olympian Iwan Thomas it promises to be much much more than a mere highlights show.
Iwan “It’s going to look back at the weekend of course, but it will also feature some lighthearted stories and there’ll be some crowd interaction. We’ll have some sort of simulator with a leaderboard for the people who come on the show. It’s going to be a lot of fun and very interactive.”
Julien Ryder “Since it’s on a Tuesday we’ll be able to bring people into the show who aren’t available at the weekend. The studio is huge so we can do things like have an endurance team demonstrating pit stops if we talk about wet races with bike swaps.”
BT Sport are very serious about opening this amazing sport up to a far wider audience. Bringing in Melanie Sykes is a bold move but one aimed at having some none-biker presence in the line-up. Not everyone wants to discuss preload or tyre compounds. There is a lot more to it than that, according to Melanie:
“Because we have the time we’ll be able to get under the skin of this amazing sport. It’s like a soap opera behind the scenes. That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing more of.”
“I’ve only been involved for 3 months but I’m really buzzed about it, and I’m harassing Neil (Hodgson) to take me around Brands Hatch. I have loved bikes for years and been on them a lot, but this is a whole new level.
“Of course I know the pressure on me, and I’m not trying to compete with anyone. I just want to bring this sport to people who aren’t necessarily bikers or race fans.”
After listening to everyone enthuse about the coverage and the amount of time allocated to it, I was most struck by Cal Crutchlow’s comments:
“Coverage of Moto2 and Moto3 for british riders is big. When I was young and wanting to race this sort of coverage, at this level, would have been so important to have. For those guys to get this level of coverage is vital for sponsorship. To know that BT Sport have so long allocated to this sport, that they’ll be interviewing them as well as us gives those guys a huge help in getting sponsorship.”
All of which is very important for the progression of British riders into and through the MotoGP paddock. That in turn is very good for the sport at a national level.
Personally speaking I was disappointed to hear that the previous BBC coverage was done. Now, I’m very excited about what BT Sport are prepared to do to bring this to us. Sure, it’s all about subscriptions to their service but what they’re going to do here, the investment and scale of their programme, really is impressive.
In the past I would never have signed up to a media service just for a sport.
Now I would.