The news that lo­cal pay-TV out­let Sky TV has failed in its bid to keep For­mula 1 on its ros­ter should come as no sur­prise. In fact I still can’t quite be­lieve that the com­pany which once en­joyed a near mo­nop­oly on cov­er­age of main­stream sport in this coun­try will not be screen­ing the next Rugby Cup. It was out­bid on the rights to that by a TVNZ/ Spark con­sor­tium. That’s a real tec­tonic shift in the way Ki­wis like you and I ‘con­sume’ tele­vised sport but view­ing habits have ob­vi­ously changed, and are con­tin­u­ing to evolve at a rapid rate. That said, I can’t help but think of Sky as the Daddy ( or per­haps that should be the Grand Daddy) of lost op­por­tu­nity. Why, by way of ex­am­ple, has the com­pany never put to­gether a ded­i­cated mo­tor­sport chan­nel? I sub­scribed, pri­mar­ily, so that my wife and daugh­ter could watch net­ball and my bas­ket­ball-mad son could im­merse him­self in the NBA, and any mo­tor­sport I had time to watch was a bonus. These days, how­ever, my son prefers to fol­low the NBA via their app, and my wife and daugh­ter lost in­ter­est in the Sil­ver Ferns when the cur­rent knit­ting cir­cle that passes as a man­age­ment squad over­saw a dis­as­trous Com­mon­wealth Games cam­paign... while con­stantly over­look­ing one of their best play­ers, star shooter Cathrine Tui­v­atu! Which leaves me cast adrift some­where be­tween the new and old waves of how we as fans ‘con­sume’ our sport. For in­stance there have been days when I have lounged on the coach with one eye on the TV watch­ing the Aussie Su­per­cars and the other on the For­mula Drift Ja­pan livestream ( Go Mad Mike!) on my smart­phone! I still can’t fathom why we don’t have a ded­i­cated chan­nel for mo­tor­sport how­ever. Be­fore I fi­nally agreed to pony up and sub­scribe, for in­stance, I used to get my own back on those pesky bloody phone sales­peo­ple ring­ing me up of­fer­ing me one­off Sky TV deals just when I was sit­ting down to eat my din­ner. “Sure,” I used to say, “I’ll sub­scribe, but ONLY if you can guar­an­tee that Sky will put to­gether a ded­i­cated mo­tor­sport chan­nel!” “Oh sir,“the ea­ger beaver on the other end would say,“Sky TV has For­mula 1, NASCARS ( sic) plus many more con­tents ( sic). You are sub­scrib­ing now please?” “No,” I’d say to the hap­less phone jockey be­ing paid peanuts at a call cen­tre halfway around the globe.“You guys put to­gether a 24/ 7 chan­nel that just shows mo­tor­sport THEN I’ll sub­scribe… My mate the TV pro­ducer con­firms that the con­tent is there, much of it al­ready paid for by the likes of spon­sors Mo­bil and Lu­cus Oils. So it wasn’t as if it was go­ing to cost much to do. All that was needed was some­one at Sky TV to drive it... Imag­ine, for in­stance, wak­ing up of a lazy Sun­day morn­ing, wan­der­ing into the lounge, flick­ing on the TV and rather than the usual space and time fillers like golf, cricket and school­boy bloody rugby you could see a re­run of last year’s King of the Ham­mers or Baja 1000 events from the US or some of that amaz­ing shale sur­face hill climb­ing from Ice­land. There must be plenty of lo­cal con­tent that would fit into the for­mat as well…. like cov­er­age of the an­nual Burt Munro ( mo­tor­cy­cle) Chal­lenge from In­ver­cargill, or old Race to the Sky Hill Climbs from the Cardrona Val­ley. Right now though, the only bright spot in an in­creas­ingly over­cast Sky ( sorry, couldn’t re­sist that one) is the weekly Sky Speed ‘mag­a­zine’ show. I doubt whether that’s enough to make any real dif­fer­ence to the bot­tom line, but it’s a start. And se­ri­ously, as a fan of pretty much any sport – from rugby through cy­cling to bas­ket­ball and net­ball – played well, I’d def­i­nitely miss Sky TV, even if the spe­cific sports I fol­low, are avail­able any­where, any­time on my phone!

NZ4WD edi­tor Ross MacKay.

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