“The Televisual Revolution”

Let’s play a little game of Mad Libs. Do you remember this from when you were a kid? You would buy a book with a variety of stories printed with key words missing. You would then fill in those words to create your own individualized story. Below is a press release detailing the WRC’s ambitious plan for its future TV package. Have a read through and write down what you think are supposed to go into the blanks…

Press release posted in December 1.___(year)___, announcing the new TV format for the WRC in 2.___(year)___.

“The World Rally Championship can become as important as Formula 1.” So says FIA President 3.___(person)___. A little over two years ago, the WRC handed the TV rights for the series to 4.___(broadcaster)___, and since then, things have moved fast. We have never had so much rallying on our screens, filmed in such a spectacular fashion. At the moment, most of the images are found on satellite or subscription channels, but moves are afoot to show them on terrestrial channels in several countries. 

5.___(broadcaster)___ has been unstinting in its efforts to put on a good show, with no less than 3 different types of camera positions. Some are located on the stages themselves, with others at the end of the stage, while a helicopter camera provides the sort of shots which give an idea of the fantastic backdrops to be found on most rallies. on top of that, there are 22 small on-board cameras fitted to the cars; looking to the front, or at the driver, the co-driver, the driver’s feet, and even the brake discs which glow red with the effort of stopping the cars. Every evening, all the film material will be edited on-site in the service area. A round-up will be provided each day of the rally running from Thursday to Sunday night. A further extended highlights show will be made available on the Monday after the rally. The companies who have signed up with 6.___(broadcaster)___ can also use their equipment to provide further footage of their own.

The aim is that by 7.___(year)___, rallies will be shown live on television. “Our aim is to have a presenter front a live show, for example, following the best drivers through the last stage of a rally just as they would pick up a golfer as he approaches the eighteenth hole in golf,” explains 8.___(person)___. There is a body of opinion that rallying is best served as a television show, with a well put together segment of highlights, as the live event is hard to follow, with a series of cars coming through the same piece of road. But skiing has proven that it is possible to make a sport exciting, even when competitors are not running head to head. One possible solution for rallying is the use of fiber optics and mobile cameras. “As you change direction, you look towards the corner,” continues 9.___(person)___. “We would like to have our cameras do the same thing.”

That’s not all. Soon we will have split screen images, showing two cars at the same time at the same place, as we already have seen in F1 during qualifying. That will allow the viewer to see where and how one driver has an edge over another. There will also be interview coming right from the cars as they transit between stages. Graphics will be run over the image, showing speed, engine revs, the stopwatch, and distance covered, as well as which gear is being used. In the near future, the sport will go interactive and the viewer will be able to chose the images to fill the screen. The future is here today in 10.___(year)___.

So, what did you come up with? When was this press release posted, and by whom? Perhaps it was put out for the launch of Red Bull’s new internet TV package for the 2017 season. Maybe it isn’t quite that recent and instead, it was released with the launch of WRC+. Either way, it’s got to be within the last few years… right? After all, we are still waiting to see things like moving on-board cameras and in-car interviews during transit sections make their way into the WRC’s TV coverage. Well… here’s the answers to what goes in the blanks.

  1. 2001
  2. 2002
  3. Max Mosley
  4. ISC
  5. ISC
  6. ISC
  7. 2003
  8. David Richards
  9. David Richards
  10. 2001

WOW… That’s right… this was written 15 YEARS ago in 2001. I stumbled across it when I was leafing through an old WRC yearbook that was gathering dust on my bookshelf. So, here we are in 2016, and we still haven’t seen all of these lofty ambitions come to fruition for the WRC’s TV package. In many ways, Becs Williams, Colin Clark, and the rest of the fantastic WRC Radio team have achieved more of these goals over the past 15 years than the TV programs have.

You want daily live coverage of the WRC? WRC Radio is still your only place to go.

You see, I was starting to get really excited about the announcement that Red Bull TV would be introducing an all new internet-based live broadcast of the WRC in 2017, and in many ways, I still am. This is no doubt a huge step for the WRC and one that is long overdue. Yes, we have had WRC+ for the past 2 seasons, but 3 daily pre-recorded highlights shows, one live stage, and an end of rally wrap up just isn’t cutting it in 2016. This becomes especially apparent when put in the context of the ambitious goals that were laid out in this press release back in 2001. Until I read this old press release, I was thinking to myself about the Red Bull TV package, “YES! look at how far the WRC’s TV coverage has come!” Now, I’m realizing that we’re only just getting to the point we should have reached years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really excited about the Red Bull TV deal and I will definitely be lapping up their content in 2017. It’s just that it’s taken us 15 years to achieve the “Televisual Revolution” that was promised back in 2001.

Excerpt retrieved from Rally Yearbook 2001 Joubin, Philippe, Venin, Jean-Philippe, Chronosports Editeur, 2001