There are some perks to being moto media. One of them is that because the industry wants to get coverage, they generally try to make it as easy as possible to get product and information to you at no cost. After all, if you have to pay for something to write about it, there’s a high chance that you won’t and the company does not get the exposure as a result.
Case in point, with the loss of Moto GP from Canadian cable channels this year, the ability to watch the GP for most Canadian fans became limited to legally grey internet streaming services or an expensive season’s pass to the official Moto GP video feed – 89.95 Euros (about C$130).
I used to get my feed via the BBC Iplayer, but they too lost the rights to Moto GP, so I opted to contact Moto GP’s parent company Dorna, to get access to its Video Pass feed (if you are not aware of this service, it gives you live access to all the races as well as the option to watch the race after the fact).
There’s no denying that it’s a great service and Dorna quickly replied, sending me a link to … subscribe. “Oh no, you don’t understand”, said I, “I want the free link for the motorcycle media”.
It appeared that free is an unknown word to Dorna, and after many emails back and forth spelling it out, they eventually stopped replying and I had to face the uncomfortable fact that Dorna were operating in new territory. One where it believes that its product is so good that even journalists would be willing to pay for it. How odd.
So I looked into Plan B and soon found a website that streams other people’s streams of various sporting events. Sure enough, there was Moto GP and I was able to catch the races, get my fix and at no cost. A win-win no?
There were two rather prominent problems that quickly became clear:
1) The old adage of you get what you pay for applies here. Free feeds have the knack of freezing up every now and then, and usually just before a pass, crash or a photo finish. This is akin to getting a free lunch only to vomit it all up afterwards.
2) European rounds could be watched live – even the Moto 3 races that kick it all off, though that meant a 6 am start on a Sunday morning, the fun of which soon rubbed off. And then when the circus moved eastwards it demanded a very late night, which inevitably meant that I slept through it.
With much horror and wailings of despair, I finally realized was that Dorna was actually right. That Moto GP was essentially the same as the drug business, once someone was hooked they would pay whatever it takes to get more. And I had somehow gone from not really giving two hoots about Moto GP a few years back to being a full-fledged junkie.
Dorna’s coup de grâce came last week with an end of season offer for its video pass that landed in my inbox. “Just 15 Euros to get access to the last two races”. I was sold as it meant that I could go to bed early for the Malaysia round this past weekend and easily catch the final round in Valencia, as I’ll be in the UK then.
And I hate to admit it, but it was worth every cent. A ‘no spoiler’ page made sure that I didn’t see any results before I’d watch the races and the ability to choose my time and pause the action meant that even the grumblings from the kids could be taken care of without missing a second of the action (in the end they even settled down and followed along – the ‘green bike’ being their favourite to win).
A brighter future?
Media wise, we are living in interesting times, where the traditional cable model is dying (and may it do so quickly), to be replaced by internet feeds. I like this, but the danger we face is that every element of entertainment will be split up and sold individually and (as we see with Moto GP) not necessarily cheaply.
Whether this is because of the need to not compete with the remaining cable offerings or because Dorna reckon that people are willing to pay that price is not clear, but after this weekend I fear it’s the latter.
Still, look on the bright side, only a few years ago, no cable coverage would have left you without any options. At least this way we can get our fix, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a little spike in petty crime figures once the 2015 video pass is announced, as I’m sure I’m not the only sad sap who will need their fix.