no images were foundToday’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!