The news that Sky is bidding for rights to televise MotoGP in the UK came just as the present broadcaster, BTSport, announced it had renewed a contract to televise the Champions’ League.
BT paid an eye watering £1.2bn, - yes,£1.2bn - for three years with a Premiership team highly unlikely to get beyond the semi-finals.
Nothing has been officially announced yet but having just paid a third more than their current contract it is highly likely that MotoGP which, like rugby, attracts modest audiences does not top the ‘to be retained at all costs’ list.
Sky will not be the only bidders. Eurosport, now owned by American giant Discovery, will be interested in regaining MotoGP whjch it lost to BT three years ago. But despite claiming to be THE motorcycle channel, it seem to be reluctant to put its money where its mouth is with, as an example, the coverage given to WorldSBK. In fact, there is the feeling that bosses expect Dorna, and to a lesser degree MSV, promotors of British Superbikes, to be grateful that they turn up at all.
Television is important to sport and there is no doubt that, in particular, Sky has revived and transformed sports like boxing and darts. It is, however, ditching speedway. But credit has to be given to the promoters of these events whose flare, it has to be said, is still sadly lacking in our sport with one or two honourable exceptions.
It will therefore be interesting to see what happens in Formula One where new owners media company Liberty is headed by a Buffalo Bill lookalike called Chase Carey who is promising to turn every event into the four-wheel equivalent of the Super Bowl. Well, all the right noises and hope springs eternal. But all we can say is good luck, there's a mountain to climb.
Bernie Ecclestone is being blamed for everything that is wrong with F1 but he has had to face an army of people determined to make racing risk-free, fuel-efficient, noise-less, hi-tech… Oh, and don't bump into each other. In other words, dull. And it has been achieved. Isn't it ironic that team bosses like Red Bull’s Christian Horner of Red Bull are now saying, ‘We would like to be like MotoGP’.
Dorna has done a good job with MotoGP but with Sky’s coverage and investment in production values a good product could be transformed into a brilliant one. Promoters should constantly remind themselves that the one thing they don't control in this entertainment package is the race itself. Everything else they do and that is what they should focus on.
I hesitant to suggest it but the most exciting part of a football match is penalty shoot outs. Contrived, condemned by the purists when first introduced, but gripping nevertheless…