BT Sport secure exclusive MotoGP rights

BT Sport have secured exclusive rights to the MotoGP World Championship, along with feeder series’ Moto2 and Moto3, it has been announced. The announcement ends BBC’s ten year association covering the championship, and British Eurosport’s coverage. BT Sport’s deal will cover 2014 through to and including 2018, the broadcaster covering every session of the championships.

The acquisition of MotoGP by BT means that they join Eurosport and Sky Sports in having covered the series. Sky Sports were involved in MotoGP (then 500cc) in the early 1990’s, with Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder commentating. Martin Turner, now Sky Sports F1 executive producer, was producing the programs. When Sky chose to focus on the Superbike World Championship, Eurosport picked up coverage of the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc series. Since 2003, BBC have covered MotoGP live alongside Eurosport, BBC taking over from Sunset+Vine’s Channel 5 coverage which was presented by Steve Scott. BBC’s rights to screen the MotoGP race became exclusive from the beginning of 2009 when Dorna opted to axe British Eurosport’s coverage. Amusingly, that press release contained the words: “The decision is part of Dorna´s new strategy of working with national network broadcasters around Europe, always focusing first and foremost on free-to-air coverage to bring MotoGP to wider audiences.” Unfortunately for fans across the United Kingdom, Dorna’s deal with BT Sport goes completely against that grain. As it turned out, the decision to axe British Eurosport’s coverage was overturned in February 2009, with sessions being broadcast live and the MotoGP race being shown on a tape delay.

The announcement of BT Sport’s coverage notes how viewers will be able to “see races from the riders’ perspective and with more interactive features showing off the most technologically advanced bikes, giving UK fans a whole new MotoGP viewing experience, immersing them in every aspect of the Championship”. This puts the coverage alongside Sky Sports’ F1 coverage and BBC’s F1 coverage which has a similar set-up behind their respective interactive services. Manel Arroyo, Dorna Sports, Managing Director, said: “We’re proud that MotoGP will be part of such a huge and exciting project as BT Sport.” Simon Green, Head of BT Sport, added: “The agreement with MotoGP is really exciting. We want BT Sport to offer a wide range of sports that appeal to many different audiences and MotoGP is a thrilling sport with a massive and committed fan base in the UK and Ireland.”

Jake Humphrey, former BBC F1 presenter and BT Sport presenter, said: “As a motorsport lover I was also so excited when I knew we might be able to pull off quite a coup and beat a number of other broadcasters to bag exclusive rights to Moto GP from 2014. I am certain we will give you the commitment, consistency and creativity you deserve from the sports’ broadcaster, and I think there is so much we can do to give you a better insight into Moto GP than you’ve ever had before. The way F1 is covered has changed beyond recognitionin the past few years and it’s time to bring much of that to Moto GP. Insight, analysis, breaking down the technical barriers, getting to know the riders – I think it can all be better and we’ll work really hard to make it the most comprehensive coverage you’ve ever had. Moto GP is so compelling, so exciting, and after 4 years in the F1 pit lane I know it deserves the best possible coverage. We are also well aware how much passion there is for bikes in this country and I want you to trust that we will do you, and the sport you love, justice. It was particularly great to have Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow at our launch and he is really enthused about what BT Sport can bring to the table, as am I.”

It remains to be seen whether BT Sport take some, if any, of BBC’s or Eurosport’s current line-ups. BBC’s line-up consists of Matt Roberts and Azi Farni in the pit lane with Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish in the commentary box. Over on Eurosport is the familiar trio of Toby Moody, Julian Ryder and Neil Spalding. One option, and probably the best option, would be to have Roberts and Farni for before and after the sessions, with Moody, Ryder and Spalding in the commentary box. But in the same way BBC brought in fresh blood for their Formula 1 coverage in 2009 and Sky in 2012; I imagine that BT may want to bring in some fresh faces. As always, time will tell. Given that BT are starting off from scratch though, they will definitely be hiring people from somewhere, so I can imagine at least some of the current line-up at BT Sport next year. An article from Broadcast says that coverage will be produced by North One Television, with a small on-site presence at every round. Whilst the official announcement today does not confirm who is producing it, it does say that there will be “on-site [presence] with additional studio coverage from BT Sport’s state of the art facilities at the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London”. In between race weekends, there will be additional motorcycle related programming.

On the whole though, I cannot see any positives out of this deal, apart from Dorna getting an extra bit of money. The dedicated motorcycling fan will like the interactive features – if they can get their hands on the channel, but anyone else will be left phased out. MotoGP currently gets about 1.2 million viewers on BBC Two. Those that regularly follow my Formula 1 ratings reports will know that Sky Sports F1’s exclusively live races get less than that. I can’t see MotoGP’s viewership increasing here, unfortunately the viewership will probably go in the opposite direction.

Eurosport have confirmed to The F1 Broadcasting Blog that they did bid to retain their existing rights for 2014 onwards. BBC on their own website say “We are very proud of our Moto GP coverage and submitted a competitive bid to retain the broadcasting rights beyond our current contract.”

Do you think this deal is good or bad for MotoGP? Have your say in the comments below.

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35 thoughts on “BT Sport secure exclusive MotoGP rights

  1. I don’t watch bikes as they don’t interest me, BUT this can only be a bad deal for the fans, same as with the Sky F1 deal ( albeit with that, there is some FTA coverage) and going further back in time, all England test cricket matches including the Ashes moving to Sky. Like I said, not a fan of bikes, but I feel sorry for those who’ll not get BT and will lose out.

  2. ^^^ Agreed.

    The issue with pay-tv sport is it’s a monopoly, often contracted for many years, leaving fans with the only option of paying for, and taking what they’re given or not seeing their favourite sport.

    I’m hoping that sponsors will start to pull out due to less exposure and these stupid expensive TV contracts will stop.

  3. Considering FTA viewing figures are already relatively low on BBC, I can’t see how they plan on reaching more viewers on pay tv. The only advantage for Moto GP is that BT would have probably paid more for the rights than BBC.

  4. Just a note, BT require that you have their BT Infinity package to access BT Sport on TV. This is considerably more expensive than the basic broadband packages and isn’t available to ALL households across the UK. If you don’t have BT Infinity, you can only watch online and via their App.

    • That’s not the case. You can be a (basic) broadband subscriber and receive the channels free via Sky, DTT or the online apps. You do need to have Infinity to get the BT TV package, but if you can’t get Infinity, you can get coverage through DTT, replacing Sky Sports 1 and 2.

      • From what I’ve read and been told, my point is correct. You are correct regarding BT Sport on Sky but the only way for non-Sky customers to receive the channels is through the BT Infinity service; which not everybody can gain access to due to the fibre optic reaches.

      • According to this page:

        “Great news! If you’re not yet eligible for BT Infinity, you can still experience BT Sport on your TV. Just fill in your details on this page and you’ll be the first to hear about when you can get BT Sport.

        As long as you have BT Broadband and a BT TV package, you’ll be able to watch BT Sport on your TV via your TV aerial (£10 viewing card and BT Vision+ box required).1 We’ll be ready before the start of the live Barclays Premier League, so you won’t miss a kick!”

        https://www.register.btsport.com

  5. It’ll be Sky all over again.

    They’ll give it away free to drive broadband uptake/switching. Then after that peaks they’ll stop offering it free to new customers, then they’ll start charging a huge subscription to everyone.

    These companies only see our sports as marketing tools and if the greedy governing bodies aren’t careful we could see some of them killed off, anyone remember Champ Car?

    • Nah this is all all out broadband war. Sky need to keep their broadband business growing to make them a multiplatform broadcaster (satellite is an aging delivery mechanism). BT are using the sports channel as a marketing tool to protect their number 1 position in broadband as well as kick starting their TV by wire business. This will lead to some fireworks.

  6. Have MotoGP and F1 entered into a joint suicide pact?!

    MotoGP will regret this deal when the viewing figures are released and the sponsors terminate their contracts. The same is already happening in F1 – sponsors are demanding BIG reductions in fees.

    You can either have high viewer numbers on free-to-view + good sponsor revenue, or lower viewer numbers on pay TV + extra money from pay TV + lower sponsor revenue.

    Something that both F1 and MotoGP will have to learn the hard way is you can’t have the best of both worlds.

  7. just email sure deodorants about sponsor lotus f1 and boycotting them. this for sure will kick up a stink

  8. Is BT Sport going to be available through the main Virgin Media packages, like British Eurosport, or is it going to be like Sky Sports F1 where I have to pay a ridiculous fee to get access to it. If its the latter then the 2010s are becoming a very bad year for motorsport.
    Only half the F1 races and no Moto GP up to and including 2018 (and probably beyond as I will be surprised if SKy or BT dont extend their contracts. ESPN are gone by August, so there will be no way to watch the DTM or IndyCars at all until another broadcaster decides to pick them up, and if they do, it will be most likely Sky or BT.
    So that leaves only 10 F1 races and the BTCC for people who just have Freeview and for people who have Eurosport 1 and 2 also get the WTCC, BSB and SBK. However, as BT Sport appear to be focusing on motorbikes, I can see Eurosport losing the SBK and BSB once those contracts have run out.

    • I can just see Eurosport losing the SBK and BSB to BT Sport and them creating a BT Motorbikes channel.

  9. Not happy !!!!! my whole family watch Moto gp we will miss out big time as we don’t all have the money to pay for tv it’s disgusting why do we pay for tv licensing and not be able to watch anything !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. As I wrote on the original thread this is an enormous investment by BT to protect their broadband offering against Sky’s increasing market share. When I left my comment on Sunday I assumed they were going to do something to tie the channel in with the broadband business and this is a pretty comprehensive version of this. As a BT broadband subscriber this will actually cut my outgoings which is great.

  11. i wonder if cal crutchlow and tech 3 will be sponsored by monster next year. not much point advertising to the uk if they cant see the logos.

  12. I think there are 2 serious issues affecting enthusiasts based on this news.

    1. The quality of the output – Even though Sky ‘supply more content’ than the Beeb ever did, it’s of a very poor quality and not worth the monthly subscription. There needs to be some way of moderating the quality of the content, maybe via Ofcom, to make sure that these broadcast monopolies, like BT and MotoGP offer value for money.

    2. The death of a sport – As Dave stated above, you cannot have your cake and eat it. A sport predominately paid for by sponsorship relies on how many eyes see their brand. Cut that number by going from free-to-air to pay-per-view could panic sponsors, causing a ‘run’ on sponsorship cancellations as confidence wanes and as I stated before you end up with a Champ Car situation and the death of a sport.

  13. this will go down as the stupidest thing dorna have ever done,talk about shooting your foot dorna try your head next time,lol

  14. No question, this is a bad deal for the fans. I love Moto GP but I won’t be subscribing to BT Sport on top of my Sky HD package and I’m going to go out of my way to avoid any of the Sponsors. Instead of having them get their grubby hands in my wallet I’m going to hit them in theirs.

  15. In my view, you can’t beat the banter and knowledge of Moody, Ryder and Spaldini for the commentary on Moto GP. Let’s hope there will be a turn round and all Three guys can come together and perform thheir magic. Everyone I speak to agrees whole heartedly, make it happen.

  16. I’ve sucked in and upgraded so I can watch the best motorcycle racers, but it’s not right that many hundreds of thousands won’t be able to follow the sport they have grown up with.
    The new BTSport commentary team are good but not at the level of Moody, Ryder and Spaldini (remember when Mamola was in the pitlane?….good days).

  17. It ‘s the same old story- sports turning into businesses-Where will all end.Ihope it will not end up in the same state as football

  18. If BT are as good at MOTOGP as they are with Phones & broadband then it wont matter if you cant watch it cos it will be rubbish,
    Its all down to Dorna messing about with our Sport and anyway its only the Spanish Championships as it only Spaniards winning! Naw sorry its WSBK for me!!!

  19. Well Moto gp has died in the Channel Islands, as we don’t have BT if we want to watch the bikes it’s going to cost us £12 per month. Sadly as much as I love moto gp I will not be watching it anymore. RIP moto gp.

  20. I’ve been a biker for 45 years and will watch almost anything about bikes encluding all GPs but I’m damned if ill pay for it I’ll enjoy seeing it all fall apart and go back to BBC coverage which as we all know we pay regardless Bandit 600.

  21. I am an ardent fan of all motor sports but it has now gone too far. Moto GP not being shown on regular BBC either live or recorded hightlights means us pensioners who cannot afford the likes of Sky or BT sport will no longer get the enjoyment. It means we will have to wait until net year when maybe our children will buy us a copy of the DVD covering the season. What do we pay our license fee for only to find that you have to pay another £240 per year on top of the £145 just to get it. By By Motor GP.

  22. its no wonder the world economies are messed up, when we have business men like these asses, they must have meetings with “yes” men, looking at too many graphs of how to screw money out of people and not looking at whats happening around them, WSB and BSB are going to have serious ratings this year and i bet next year these fools will still be wondering why, then to make it worse alot of the commentators are clueless, eurosporrts coverage was excellent, entertaining and full of brilliant technical information and explanations

  23. A sad day for MotoGP fans – the expertise, insight, humour, banter and general good all-round coverage of Steve Parrish and Charlie Cox will be sorely missed. We have watched some highlights of the BT Sport coverage on ITV4 and were very disappointed – no background, no post-race analysis, etc. etc. We are not inclined to pay extra for an inferior programme and don’t like the way that BT has done a “Microsoft” on everyone – get BT Sport or miss coverage of your favourite sport. Not good.

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