OP-ED – ALMS TV Deal A Future Model?

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Today’s ALMS TV deal will undoubtedly benefit a series that is trying to pick up the pieces after a economic meltdown had it derailed. The American audience was treated to the premier sports car series via Speed and CBS last season. The upgrade to ESPN/ABC offers a lot more positives than negatives in a time where sponsor air time is key. For a series like ALMS that needs more sponsors, this could prove to be a dream come true.

The deal today came from a healthy marriage between ALMS and Intersport that formed last year. The original deal was to work media issues but has really blossomed into Intersport forming media strategies for coverage of the series. Last year’s CBS deal expired and the series opted for the ESPN/ABC road that to a certain extent used to be home to the IZOD IndyCar series. The ALMS deal however now takes advantage of the internet to a whole new level.

As the press release indicated, every race from the series will now air on ESPN3.com for their entirety. That’s right! The whole race will be produced and shown on the internet with slight tape delays coming on the ABC/ESPN2 broadcasts. Races that are shown on ABC will also get an encore performance on ESPN2. There are also a number of special pre-race shows and documentary films that will be aired on the networks.

In my opinion, the best part of this is the Xbox Live portion. This is completely revolutionary in the realm of motorsport. I will now be able to get on my Xbox 360 and actually watch the races via the ESPN app I download for free with my subscription. Are you serous? To this point, the app has been used for college football, a variety of niche sports, and highlights from the day. Or if you are at my house, all the English Premiere League Football you can stomach. I like it because now I am not anchored to my PC for a 12 hour event. I can pull it up on my larger screen TV and watch from the comfort of my couch just as if it was on the television. Brilliant! Playstation fans would have you believe that it is dumb it only shows on the Xbox. Well guess what, you got the Blu-Ray stuff and we didn’t.

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I think a model like this could be used well by other series. Take for example the WRC. Here in the states, fans of the series get a snip it of whats happening after we truly know the results. So we then get to see what we have read put onto the screen. It has a watered down effect and one that really does nothing for the fan. Ok, I will admit that I watch it anyways because I love to see rally cars on stage. However, could we not set up some kind of feed that shoots on board cameras to our PCs? Probably not because it is under the heavy arm of the FiA. Even with an innovative group like North One Sport, the hand of the FiA weighs heavy. One needs to look no further than the schedule conflict that came up. I also know for a fact that F1 would never sign off on a deal like this. Actually bring people FP1? Are you serious? I am sure there are reasons for the above series not going this route, but why not entertain the idea? Perhaps post special programming online for the fans. While we can all be concerned about the “ratings”, the fact of the matter is they don’t overly matter anymore. DVR, live streaming media…it is very rare that anyone really watches a program live anymore. Especially in the land of INDYCAR. I watch the streaming for the audio and the video is not usually too bad. So how is someone going to judge me? I am watching the race…just not on TV.

In closing, I think that a lot of motorsport series will be watching this project. If successful, we may see a lot more emphasis put on the live streaming of events and sessions on the web. ALMS has found a good home to show their amazing product off. I will be fully utilizing every capability offered and look forward to the special content presented. The level of access this type of package offers is truly going to give fans a great look at the beautiful machines and the spectacle that is sports car racing. Roll on 2011!

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7 Thoughts to “OP-ED – ALMS TV Deal A Future Model?

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  2. This will be good for ALMS. In recent years, their programming has been on as many as four networks in the same season with some of them being live and some being delayed. Having all of their content live on the interwebs is fantastic. The enthusiast fanbase will show up on the internet, while the casual fans can show up for the delayed (and shortened) races.

  3. Hurley's Boytoy

    I haven’t seen this much spin since I got off the tilt-a-whirl.


  4. Hurley’s,

    No intention on making you dizzy! lol. Was never a fan of that ride either. I was simply trying to explain that this a great deal for the series and that other series which are not as readily available should take some notice. I like the fact that I can now watch the full race online as it happens. I have never been a huge fan of the tape delay. Last year’s Mid-Ohio race was a week late! I just appreciate the series has offered the online deal for no cost and I can watch on the Xbox. Also, putting the races all over the web and all over the TV will bring great exposure to the series. This is a great series that offers great racing, and hopefully being on ABC/ESPN will bring more sponsorship and more cars to the grid in the future. Thanks for the comment and look forward to hearing from you soon!

  5. Hope they keep Marty Reid away. The guy is just a NASCAR announcer and has no business at ALMS or IZOD INDYCAR events. Its like Jackie Stewart doing NASCAR or Rusty Wallace doing the INDY 500. Oh wait ABC did the latter too.

    Hopefully Dorsey Schrader can be hired for ALMS events.

  6. Thesmartestguyintheroom

    I disagree with your rosy assessment of ALMS’ new media deal. Here’s why:

    You seem to be most impressed by the fact that you can watch the races online on ESPN3.com and on XBox. Fine. What about those who don’t have either-myself included?

    You mention ‘slight tape-delays.” What you don’t mention is that the tape delays are one week. Why would someone watch something that they already can easily access the results of immediately, instead of watching a truncated, edited version of the races? It’s bascially going to look like what Speed does with its coverage of British Touring Car, World Touring Car, DTM, FIA GT1 and Australian V8 Supercars. And while that may satisfy some, it doesn’t satisfy everyone. Also, the “documentary” style shows didn’t impress me much, and I’m not sure how many others think highly of it either.

    In one of your rebuttals, you mention that being on ESPN/ABC will hopefully bring more sponsors and cars to the grid. IndyCar has been on ESPN/ABC for a long time. How many new sponsors/cars has being on ESPN/ABC brought to IndyCar? ESPN’s coverage of any motorsport-NASCAR, IndyCar-has been complete and total garbage for the past several years. And this is good for ALMS? How, exactly?

    Unlike a commenter in your other post, I’m not going to call you a name-only people who can’t logically address an issue have to lower themselves to something that childish and immature. I will simply say that I don’t share your enthusiasm for this deal. I fear that this will actually mean the end of the ALMS, which would be really sad.

    I will end with this: Few if any sports have ever been successful in America without live television-either over-the-air or cable. By choosing this path, I believe ALMS is dooming itself to being bascially non-existent and probably eventually being extinct. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that I’m not. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  7. Thesmartguy,

    Appreciate the constructive feedback! As far as the new technology front with the web and Xbox feeature, I understand that not all have that capability. However, a vast majority of the target demographic (18-34) does in fact have at least one of these at their disposal. For folks like yourself that do not have either, it does present an issue no question.

    In relation to the tape delay, now that I know it is a week dealy, I see really no difference than the CBS delay. You had mentioned the watered down versions of the foreign series via Speed, that issue will be resolvef after Speed launches their streaming platform as well. That way fans of the BTCC, Aussie V8’s can also stream live. Seeing how long these races are, it is nearly impossible to get them on a live basis via ABC/ESPN, so as was indicated on the podcast, the interent offers the platform to view the whole race. I know that ABC/ESPN was also an issue for INDYCAR and nothing really good came out of it. That series was on its last breath and there was little TV coverage could do to solve the issue. ALMS on the other hand is riding some positive momentum and perhaps can still leverage the national broadcast.

    I know it is frustrating watching something you already know the results to, my WRC coverage spoils the HD Theatre rebroadcast, but I still like to watch teh cars on stage. So i agree and understand yoour frustration.

    Youlast statement was spot on though. We don’t truly know the eventual outcome of the deal, but as a fan, I am with you and hope that the series not only survives, but grows for the future. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope to see more comments in the future!

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