A Night At The Races With BT Sport
Londonbikers.com were there to watch it all happen.
It can't have escaped the attention of anyone remotely interested in motorcycle racing that BT Sport won the rights to screen live coverage from the BBC during 2013. This is only part of their portfolio which started with live premiership football and rugby, and now includes the World Rally Championship and Nascar.
The hour-long Tuesday night show, hosted by TT host Craig Doyle and ex-athlete Iwan Thomas, is billed as a highlights show but is actually far more than that.
Inevitable comparisons between this show and Top Gear were made but made in error. Both are live studio shows with the crowd standing around the presenters but whereas TG is about 3 middle-aged men having fun, this show is about bikes.
Joining the two presenters was Ross Noble, biker and comedian, commentator Julian Ryder plus half way through the show Scott Redding joined in fresh from the drive back from the Middle East.
The running order was briefly
- a review of the weekend with Ryder and Noble
- a live vote about Cal's decision to join Ducati
- a chat and a game with some track marshals
- a long chat with Scott Redding
- a look at Mike Hailwood's Honda and memorabilia with Mike's son
- the 'lean machine' section where Redding rode a bike simulator for a live lap and then battled Noble for the max number of knee-downs in 30 seconds.
Presented with gusto by Craig "making it look easy" Doyle and the positively bubbling Iwan it seemed that BT Sport had got the right balance of factual information and explanations alongside some more irreverent but no-less interesting pieces.
My problem with the usual highlight shows has always been that they generally offer little once you've seen the main event in full. BT Sport also have the problem that once the race fan has finished monopolising the TV for 6 hours Fri/Sat and Sunday they must then convince the rest of the household to watch an hour of 'highlights'.
This show sorts out both issues. There is no compressed rerunning of the races - they are available online - but instead we get to hear more about the UK riders, some paddock gossip and examination of a few highlights.
Then there is about 45 minutes of bike related features which are sufficiently well presented and judged to not bore anyone having to watch it yet keep real enthusiasts interested.
The promise is that they will have at least one rider in the studio every Tuesday where distance makes it possible. Obviously it may be difficult from Philip Island - they can't shrink the Earth. Hopefully there'll be a very special line up for the Silverstone round but naturally (and actually) they can't confirm what we all want to hear.
Like it or loath it, to watch top flight sports via top flight production and technology is going to cost us. Don't forget how woeful the BBC coverage was - a tour of the town, an interview with a rider then the race and a quick goodbye before the podium. Just for the main race and only if BBC2 couldn't find an antiques programme to put in its place.
We shouldn't spend too long mourning the passing of one era or we'll fail to notice the new one.
BT Sport totally justify their rights to screen live MotoGP and every subscriber is not short-changed*.
*Not relevant for those who would pay a monthly fee just to watch Melanie Sykes or Scott Redding.