The V8 Supercars Championship has announced more details of the free-to-air TV viewing fans will be able to access from 2015 onwards, when Fox Sports and Channel Ten take over the series’ broadcasting rights from the Seven Network.
And while series’ CEO – and former TV executive – James Warburton boasted that the championship’s viewing figures would increase to record levels under the new deal, the facts of the matter would suggest that his confidence is sorely misplaced.
With Fox Sports having paid a record $226 million to secure exclusive rights to broadcast every practice, qualifying and race session live and in high definition on a six-year deal, a sharing arrangement with the free-to-air Channel Ten will see fans short-changed, unless they can stump up the cash to move to the pay-TV platform.
Warburton today confirmed that only the long-distance rounds at Adelaide, Townsville, Sandown, Bathurst, Gold Coast and Sydney would be shown live on free-to-air, while the remaining championship rounds would be limited to one-hour delayed highlights packages.
These would be screened at 8:30pm on One and 11:30pm on Ten on the Saturday and Sunday nights of the events, while an extra one-hour broadcast of the Saturday action will be shown on Sunday at 4:00pm.
While access to live television would be drastically reduced under the new deal, Warburton expressed confidence that the consistent broadcast times would ensure greater TV audience levels on the free-to-air platform.
“Eighty percent of our fans in the research we’ve done don’t (currently) know what channel the next race is on and 68 percent of our eyeballs are on those races that will be simulcast,” Warburton said, referring to the decision of current broadcaster, the Seven Network, to alternate its broadcasts across its three terrestrial channels.
“This is about growing the penetration… putting the highlights packages into a prime-time slot that every fan knows where it is.”
Those wishing to subscribe to Fox’s ‘V8 Package’ won’t yet know what pricing structure will be put in place by the pay TV network, although details are expected to be forthcoming towards the end of this year.
Based on its current pricing structure – where the SPEED motorsport channel is packaged on its ‘premium’ model – it would suggest that the minimum annual commitment per household will be well upwards of $600 per year.
One wonders how many fans will be willing – or can afford – to stump up that kind of cash…
Image via V8 Supercars Championship Media