Advanced Television

Ride to thrive

April 2, 2024

Full Disclosure: I write this piece without any pretence to journalistic objectivity. I ride a motorcycle, l love to do it, and I am a huge fan of motorcycle racing.

Therefore, I wish Liberty Media all the best with their acquisition of Dorna, the organiser behind MotoGP and World Superbikes. MotoGP is the top, prototype class of global motorcycle racing – it is the equivalent of Formula 1. Part of the problem is that I have to explain that. I say that though it may be the class equivalent, there is no equivalence in the sense that Formula 1 is mainly boring, full of bland characters and (Max Verstappen’s generational talent apart) decided by which team has the most money.

MotoGP – and World Superbike, a similar series that uses bikes based on those in showrooms but is only about a second a lap slower than MotoGP – have close racing and are populated by proper characters. They often hate each other, but always have mutual respect as what they do demands preternatural skill and is also still genuinely precarious.

Liberty have done a great job (very aided and abetted by Netflix) returning what was the somewhat moribund F1 theatre under Bernie Ecclestone, to the world stage. Because MotoGP is much better television, they should have no trouble doing the same with MotoGP.

At the moment, disparate broadcasters do disparate jobs with the show. For the UK, TNT inherited it from BT Sport and, while the coverage is good, it is a backwater. The sport is also suffering the loss of Valentino Rossi retiring (think Schumacher and Senna wrapped in one). But new personalities are breaking through, and there are Shakespearean sagas everywhere: Marc Marquez (pictured) may be the most talented rider ever, and seemed set to sweep aside Rossi’s record – but some still believe he tried a little too hard when he appeared to help another rival beat Rossi when he couldn’t.

Now, after years sidelined by injury, he’s back to try and wrest glory from the new young guns from Italy, France and Spain. Actually, a bit too much Spain; following on from the success of Marquez there’s been a conveyor belt of Spanish talent dominating the sport. Liberty needs to find the next Rossi, the next Barry Sheene (one for the kids) and Kenny Roberts, to bring the sport back to the global centre stage.

Categories: Blogs, Broadcast, Nick Snow, Off Message, People

Tags: , , ,