Why don't the TV companies fight back?


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Valued Member
To follow on from my Global Audience thread, I wanted to post this question. Why don't terestrial TV companies fight back by buying up the rights to other series or by making better use of those that they have?

Sky are living proof of what can happen when you find something when no one else is looking for it, and then run with it. When they purchased the rights to UK football back in the early 90's they caught the BBC and ITV napping. In doing so, they managed to serve up something to an audience that had never seen so many live, televised matches before. You only have to look at the premiership today to see how the sport has grown as a result (for good and bad)

ITV4 have the rights to show BTCC which provides fantastic bumper to bumper racing for those who have never seen it. The problem with the BTCC format however is that there are 3 races in a day which doesn't lend itself to decent scheduling. To that end, why doesn't ITV show the first and second races on ITV4 and then switch to ITV1 for the final race of the day, preceeding the switch to live with highlights of race one and two.

There are several other series that are only shown as late night highlights on channels such as Eurosport or Motors TV that would be ripe for showing on mainstream channels. Formula One is only as high on its horse as it is now because we have been told for years that it is the premier form of sport and so on and so forth. I know those members of this site with long memories (I won't say old) will remember a time when motorsport was multi-platform and indeed the dominent form of racing in the 60s was sports cars. Imagine a full season of Formula Renault 3.5 which has been a proving ground for many current F1 drivers and where you get to watch racing at Spa or Monza. This series is currently buried on Eurosport.

On top of all this, the FIA Fomula 2 series will not be run in 2013 (shown live on Motors TV) and the British Formula 3 season is currently down to just 4 races and is in danger of not being run at all. This series is over 60 years old and has seen virtually every great of F1 from Senna to Clark race in its championship.

Well handled it would be easy for a major TV company to develop motorsport coverage of a series to take advantage of the huge gap in viewing when races are not being shown live on the BBC. There is an audience of 4 or 5 million who currently don't choose to watch live races on sky and any series would welcome UK viewing figures of half of that to raise its profile.

So, I say, it's time for TV companies to start picking up these series and promoting them.
Sadly the TV companies are too busy broadcasting reality, celebrity, and phone-in crap to give a stuff about anything other than football (or tennis Wimbledon in the case of the BBC).

It's a sad fact of the market today that TV companies make far more from the current tripe they serve up than they would from quality sports or programming.
Unfortunately, BARB don't have the figures but was trying to see what sort of TV audience tuned in for the Birmingham Superprix in the 80s but the figures aren't really there.

I'd love to know if something like A1GP would have got on better if that hadn't have been broadcast across Europe mainly on PPV platforms such as Sky.

I certainly remember that the proposed Masters GP series had its first race shown live on the BBC and that gained an audience of over 10 million before the full (I say full it was only 3 races and I think one of those was cancelled) was purchased by Sky and again the series sunk without a trace.
SPEED will be no more in the USA come August. No more F1 so that was a big hit, wonder if the generic sports channel Fox is creating from it will still show the MotoGP and dirt bike races, along with Grand-Am, ALMS, touring cars, and some lower series NASCAR? I hope so, but I doubt it.
Sports coverage is about to get worse across the spectrum. BT have launched into the sport arena with a BT sports channel (Fronted by Jake Humphrey). This seemed to be good news as it was more competition to bring down the prices and make sport more accessible to the viewer, however they have gone and bought out ESPN UK which just once again makes it worse. This means that BT have their share and the ESPN share of domestic sport in the UK, plus the reason to have ESPN (NFL coverage, X-Games, NHL, Baseball and a lot of what would be classified as World Sports here in the UK) stand a great chance of disappearing due to the fact that ESPN US will no longer be broadcast.

Add to that the tightening budget of the BBC Sports department, the lack of interest in major sports from ITV as a whole, Channel 4 committing to bring us more Horse Racing etc and Channel 5 being more interested in bringing us big named US TV shows and we end up with less quality coverage on our screens than ever before, even if we can afford the PPV models that are around right now :(
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