The internet and television are merging. Right? It’s something we’ve all heard for years, and of course there is absolutely a lot of truth in it.
Five years ago, Netflix was a service that mailed you DVD’s, Amazon was a place you purchased goods from, and Hulu was, at best, a place to catch old reruns.
In 2016, all three companies are legitimate web content providers. The success of a number of their respective programs has placed them as direct competitors to the premium cable companies of old, such as HBO, Showtime, and beyond. With companies like HBO and Showtime having to literally change their service and business model to accommodate “Smart” TV’s and streaming devices such as AppleTV and Amazon Fire, the argument that internet and television have merged has a clear legitimacy.
However, there remains one key area of television entertainment that still seems remains strong for the cable-loyal, live sports. While the ability to “binge watch” Netflix’s House of Cards or Amazon’s Transparent provides an unparalleled convenience and accessibility to its audience, live sports presents a unique animal.
For the sporting loyal, very rarely is the convenience of watching whenever-you-want a factor, if anything it’s the opposite. Loyal sports fans plan their schedule around their beloved team, rarely the other way around. In such, the ability to see live sports, on television, remains a true holdout in the evolving world of internet streaming, with the health of the NFL’s abundance of cable packages, the proof of that.
This is not to say that live streaming of sports has not found its way in to the modern landscape, but is more the niche than the norm. A perfect example of this is the world of international figure skating. In these months of February and March, in a non-Olympic year, the International Skating Union (ISU- skating’s governing body) simply does not garner the ratings for any of the major cable networks to justify television coverage of many of the sport’s largest events.
Yet, for a nominal yearly fee, fans can subscribe to “The Ice Network,” and have access to virtually every event around the world. With no other means to watch their beloved sport, the Ice Network boasts a very successful business model and the sport maintains it’s niche audience without much criticism.
So what does this have to do with motorsports?
Simply put, television has become the great divide between the “haves” and “have nots” of motorsport. Those who think they’re making a progressive argument that internet streaming is just as good as television to get their motorsport product out is kidding themselves.
Yes, internet content has a major place in today’s entertainment lexicon, but live sports remains a holdout, and motorsports is not niche enough to justify not being on television.
This remains true for several reasons:
This is not to say that there isn’t a place for webstreaming. It’s great for a motorsport series who knows they won’t be able to strike a television deal, and simply wants to put “something” out there for families and friends, but the truth is that’s about as reaching as it’s going to be for a while. Until sponsors and marketers within the sport figure out how to truly capitalize on the unique data and information that comes from internet streaming over television, the value simply won’t compare for quite a while.