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Live motorsport on free-to-air TV is an endangered species

By Peter McKay, 02 Oct 2017 Motorsport

Live motorsport on free-to-air TV is an endangered species

We’d better get used to paying for it, with Network Ten losing rights to everything but the Australian Grand Prix

WITH Network Ten getting a new owner, US giant CBS, there was always concern that the winds of change would sweep through the programming department, all in the name of cutting costs.

Motorsport isn’t cheap to produce or to buy, so it was always in the firing line.

A brave Network Ten press release issued on Saturday boldly announced that: “Network Ten has finalised a new agreement to broadcast the Australian Grand Prix, live and free, for the next two years.”

That’s one grand prix out of a 20-race calendar on free-to-air. But at least it’s our GP.

While Ten insists it is still the home of free-to-air motorsport, the reality is that it’s offering a few nibblies rather than the smorgasbord we once expected. Here is Ten’s current short snack list: the Australian Grand Prix, the Supercars Championship including the Bathurst 1000, the MotoGP World Championship and RPM.

The big stuff is on Fox Sports pay channels, wholly owned by News Limited.  The era of lots of great motorsport watched live and free on one or more of our big networks is sadly done and dusted. You want it live and unchopped?  You pay for it.

As is already the case, all Formula One races are shown live on Fox Sports.  This includes all practice sessions, FIA press conferences, qualifying, Martin Brundle’s grid walk, the race and a wrap.  The Supercars coverage is equally broad.

Fox Sports has its critics among fanatic motorsport followers who expect not to pay to see the big international and local categories.  But there is a lot of live stuff on offer on Fox Sports, especially if your tastes are broad and varied: Indy Cars, MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, world superbikes, world rallying, World Endurance Championship, speedway GPs, rallycross, NASCAR, plus F1 and Supercars. For $55 a month.

And if you don’t want to hand over your ciggie or beer money to big, bad Fox, you should adjust to reduced seat time in front of the box (although highlights from every international Formula One race will broadcast on the Monday night following each race on Ten’s affiliate channel, One).  There’s Speedweek on SBS, too.