A New Direction In Rally Broadcasting

The Australian Rally Championship (ARC) has made an interesting announcement regarding the direction that the broadcasting of their events will be heading in 2016. Much like what the British Rally Championship (BRC) is doing this year on Channel 4, the ARC has relied in the past on terrestrial TV to broadcast their championship. In a pretty bold move, the series organizers have made a decision to try out a new and innovative method to get their content out to viewers. According to the ARC, format of the media will be “world class, short form, color video content” that can easily be disseminated on social media or internet video sites such as, I’m guessing, YouTube.

Have a look at the first example of this format, the series promotional video, and then we’ll analyze this concept a little bit.


What did you think?

Well, as I watched the first 60 seconds of the promo, I was surprised. The dramatic slow-motion intro reminded me a whole lot of Ken Block’s Gymkhana video series. This is not a criticism at all. In fact, I think that in order for rallying media to compete with the likes of Gymkhana and it’s millions of viewers, it needs to put out the same type of production quality. If this new media dissemination plan is going to work, it needs to be flashy, eye catching, and sensational. That’s where I’m afraid the second half of the promo video falls off just a little bit. As someone who loves rallying, I will gobble up any rally footage available. For that reason, the slightly washed out Go-Pro footage didn’t bother ME too much. However, for the average 21st century peripheral viewer with a chronically short attention span, the rest of this video would probably lose their interest around the 2 minute mark. Yes, it was clever to include the calendar dates as part of the pacenotes, but it took me until about the 3rd round to figure out that this was being done, and by the end, it seemed a bit monotonous. The choice of a plain white car was also something that seemed a bit strange. In today’s age, it doesn’t cost too much money to produce a vinyl livery that looks really cool.  Average people want to see something colorful, flashy, and cool in order to gain interest. A blank car that looks like it’s on a private test is not going to capture their imaginations. Why not have a livery promoting the ARC, or Kumho, the series sponsor?

Let’s not judge a book by it’s cover though. This is only the ARC’s first attempt in producing this video content, so I’m sure they’re going to improve. In addition, one of the most appealing aspects of this format is that it will focus on more than just the stage-by-stage times of the top cars. According to the ARC’s statement, the videos will bring into focus the “Spectacular imagery, talented drivers and co-drivers, human drama, fascinating machinery, amazing locations and scenery and importantly the rich and colorful history” of the ARC. What stands out to me most in this statement is “human drama.” Rallying is a human sport. Yes, technology play a role, but the technology is only as good as the two people sitting inside of it. My biggest gripe with rallying broadcasting at all levels, including the WRC, is that it doesn’t put enough focus on the small human stories that when woven together, make up the fabric of a rally. What scenes do we remember most from the past few years of the WRC? For me, it isn’t Sebastien Ogier winning power stage after power stage. It’s the stuff like Thierry Neuville filling his radiator with Corona to make it back to service, or Hayden Paddon’s raw emotion when he though it was all over in Sardinia last year. It’s these images of humans showing their resilience when pushed to the very limit that makes rallying memorable. If the ARC can capture this kind of content with their new media strategy, then I think that it will be a resounding success. With this in mind, I’m excited about the ARC’s new media strategy. I hope that they can make it work because I would love to see other rally championships following the same path in the future.

Here’s the link to the original article on Motorsport.com: