And I am back at beating this dead horse once again, but I think this beating is quite needed and at the same time I do not think this horse is actually really dead. So beat it more I shall.
I’ll try and skip lengthy intro of describing current situation, missing promoter, close to no TV coverage and all that. Been there, done that, and we all know what the situation is like at the moment. Instead, let me see if I can dig out few reasons for making live TV stages a mandatory part of future WRC events.
It has been done before and it will be done again soon in one of the classic rallies, Tour de Corse. So it is possible and doable and there is obviously audience and market for such form of TV coverage. We even had it in Monte Carlo last year, with snow and difficult weather conditions, yet the cameras were rolling and live TV pictures were making rally fans around the world very happy. In short, technically it is possible and can be done on selected few stages, period.
The more WRC remains in it’s current limbo the more I start comparing it to Formula 1 and how Bernie Ecclestone is running things. Yes, FIA and Bernie managed to make a total mess of Formula 1 with push-to-win buttons, hypersensitive stewards, mouthwashed drivers, but the thing is extremely popular and is drawing massive crowds and sponsors. Sure, it’s much MUCH easier to provide live TV and all that for circuit racing, but that’s not the point – technically challenges should not be that different, unless you aim to broadcast entire WRC event live on TV. Few stages are nothing impossible or super difficult to do.
In Formula 1 things are quite simple – what Bernie says, race organizers do, or try to do, or try hard not to do, but then do it anyway. Because money involved is huge, and everyone wants return of investments (except China, they love their grandstands half empty), and if Bernie says race will take part at night, then this is what happens. In most cases.
So why not introduce same requirement to WRC organizers? Make it mandatory for each and every WRC event to have 2 or 3 stages in a TV friendly format (and no, I’m not saying they should be run on parking lots or stadiums). Also each organizer should be able to provide financial support to such scheme, covering at least a part of extra costs, and in return have massive sponsor billboards and banners placed in strategic places around those stages. What say you, FIA? Nothing much lately, I know.
Local organizers could also provide technical support to such projects. Another possible requirement could be to secure support of local, national or regional TV and/or broadcasting companies. These would then take care of one part of technical and/or logistic support, providing cameras or links, in short, making things easier to pull out.
With live TV stages there is so much possibility. Instead of us refreshing stage times and waiting for crews to reach stage finish to be probed by stage end reporters, we could be following splits on TV screens, watch cars in action. It would make fans happy, sponsors thrilled, and manufacturers satisfied with exposure of their products to global TV audience.
I admit I am looking at this from my usual somewhat simplified perspective, but I don’t really see why and how this should be considered supercomplicated and impossible to achieve. In the end, it does depend on whether and when FIA will secure global promoter and TV broadcaster in full effect, but I strongly believe WRC must do much more to present itself via TV. As entertaining and informative as daily reports are, it’s still far from being maximum what TV can offer to World Rally Championship.