FROM THE EDITOR
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.