Sunday, March 10, 2019

Meet the media at Motorama 2019

The last day of the weekend Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo has always been my favourite because of the media panel full of Hall of Fame journalists that discuss various issues affecting the state of racing in Canada and Internationally. Eight professional media personnel met on the Rust-Oleum stage in Hall 2 on Sunday, March 10th between 11:30am and 1:00pm - Bryce Turner, Erik Tomas (Raceline Radio Network), Norris McDonald (Toronto Star), Todd Lewis (broadcaster), Mike Garrow (MAVTV Canada), James Neilson and Wally Nesbit (Inside Track Motorsport News) along with Tim Miller (Hamilton Spectator). Todd looks on as Norris takes to the microphone in the photo at top.
Left to right; Bryce, Erik (Hall of Fame), Norris (Hall of Fame), Todd, Mike, James, Tim (Hall of Fame) and Wally

Usually every year the various media members bemoan the declining state of newspaper and magazines, suggesting that companies need to sponsor all manner of racing teams or series to spread success onto new generations of fans. The accelerating loss of mainstream media continues but it did not take up much time with the panel, they instead talked about the move to streaming on every manner of platforms - away from major networks or standard cable tv packages. A lot of sports, motorsports included, have a niche market where viewers will have to seek out viewing options and pay extra for the pleasure of watching their favourite series - if they are even available. Wally Nesbitt acknowledge that Inside Track Motorsports News is also available online as a digital copy and some of their features, like race standings, are only posted online.

Senior member of the panel - Norris McDonald, who was the former editor of Toronto Star Wheels and the associated online presence, brought up the latest burning issue, that of the almost loss of IndyCar broadcasting in Canada for 2019. Apparently the television coverage ended in 2018 and IndyCar wasn't the party that typically looked after renewals. IndyCar had to setup their own media branch to sell the broadcast rights in Canada and did not find a suitor that wanted to take on the whole 2019 season for television. They decided on Sportsnet whom would show only the Indy 500 and the Honda Indy Toronto on tv, the balance of the season would be pushed online to a premium streaming service; Sportsnet NOW+. The concern is that without free television, or really just part of your paid cable subscription service, that the interest in IndyCar could drop in the barely visible land north of the United States of America (as in we are not very important to America in the general scheme of things).

Todd Lewis noted that broadcasters have to know of a demand and suggests that people provide feedback about their viewing requirements to their carriers. Due to these type of contacts Sportsnet has agreed to stream the first IndyCar race for free (Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg which Josef Newgarden won followed by Scott Dixon and Will Power).

The future of television really is the future of streaming. Costs will increase as the bulk purchasing power through many eyeballs is diluted by the power of the internet and we have to buy more niche programming. While it seems that sports is a sure bet for niche marketing, it will also fall to normal television programming as markets are fragmented. Time to use Neflix, Apple TV, Crave TV, etc in place of a single cable tv package. It will be interesting to see if we will get into pay-per-view for each race, or series we want to watch as opposed to a yearly or monthly subscription fee. But we will be able to watch what we want, when we want and on the devices we want.

Bryce Turner pointed out that several drivers are coming back to full time racing due to sponsors stepping up to get the teams back on the track. Two recent examples are Jason Hathaway and Mark Dilley who will join the field in the upcoming NASCAR Pinty's Series stockcar 2019 racing season.

Some other topics of interest included the following.

1. Importance of eSports and virtual racing. Viewers will be able to see actual races from the drivers viewpoint and through online gaming.
2. Canada now has an F1 team with driver Lance Stroll.
3. NASCAR Pinty's Series will have a new tire starting this year from General Tire replacing Goodyear tires.
4. The move to hybrid and electric race cars away from the combustion engines (20 plus years).

And don't forget all the great vehicles taking part in Motorama 2019! See more of the cars (and the model) after the jump.

Batman under the hood

Checking out the modified cars in the Spring Fever hall

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