Sunday, March 16, 2014

Monday Morning Crew Chief: Media edition

I've dumped on AMA Pro Racing a bit, over the last few months. But I have to say that after they rushed to put together "Fans Choice TV" streaming video coverage of racing at Daytona, it wasn't that bad. In fact, the short track coverage was really quite good, as watched on my iPad from Calgary, Canada.

Other commenters have noted that it's not HDTV-quality, but since all the 'television' that I watch is actually streaming video, I only noticed a few spots where it sort of bitmapped for a moment, or the sound dropped out (and that was on my 88 year old mom's spotty internet connection.)

It's interesting to think that, really, a good streaming video service could deliver the racing to far more fans than some obscure cable channel that few viewers even have access to. And, while I suppose Fans Choice TV (a subsidiary of Nascar) may eventually try to monetize the stream by selling ad time, right now it provides an uninterrupted viewing experience.

The old television model (I'm thinking, like, 10 or 20 years ago) delivered viewers. That was why it was important to racing sponsors that races be televised. And, a lot of commenters, and AMA Pro Racing stakeholders, still hold that outdated idea; that's why there was general dismay that the 2014 superbike series was not going to be televised. It never really mattered; the potential reach of some niche, cable-only TV Sports channel is nowhere near the reach of Fans Choice TV. Few motorcycle racing fans could even find the 'broadcasts' last year; they can all stream video.

The only difference is that no one will just stumble upon AMA Pro Racing while aimlessly clicking through their cable channels. So what?

That old media-delivers-audience model is dead, and we all need to get used to the idea that in the 21st century, media is just that--a medium... that is to say, it's a way for (in this case) racers, teams, and sponsors to deliver content fans. It's no longer the medium's responsibility to deliver fans, it's just a pipeline to fans.

AMA Pro Racing has pretty much held up its end, as far as the Fans Choice TV 'broadcasts' go. If this is to work, and deliver meaningful and valuable sponsorship exposure, it is up to sponsors, teams, and racers to promote the stream, and encourage fans to connect that way.

There are some things that Nascar could do to improve its Fans Choice site, and make it more valuable to sponsors. For example, all the 2014 coverage should already be archived and available; that should happen even while the live stream's still on. But, it is already better than I expected. It's a new media world out there; they don't even need a TV deal if they make the streaming video service good, and keep it free. And, ironically, if they get a few hundred thousand people watching the live streams, I can guarantee that a TV deal will come out of the woodwork anyway.


  1. The coverage was really rather good. I agree the Flat Track was even better than the road racing. Smaller venue easier to broadcast. They definitely need the archived footage up faster. I thought it was great that they had fans Tweeting from all over the world and for that this is already a win.

  2. Indeed it was a bit surprising that the coverage was as good as it was. I am encouraged by the prospect of a good, if truncated, domestic race season.

  3. I enjoyed the coverage too -- as a long time sport bike racing fan, I am just getting into flat track, so I was glad to find online coverage. Twitter makes it easy to learn about the racers and events.