I was disappointed when I discovered back in 2013 that the BBC had lost rights to show the MotoGP. I enjoyed the programming of the shows, I enjoyed the punchy coverage (just right) and I enjoyed uncle Stavros and uncle Charlie’s irreverent natter over the race.
The BBC picture is available in HD, perfect for high action bright punchy slow-motion footage. BT had aspirations to become a sports broadcaster and bought the rights to pretty much everything. Very bold, I thought, but will this work? Will it be good for racing?
I moved home in 2014 and picked up BT sport for ‘free’ as part of a BT TV box deal. “Great”, I thought to myself. “Now I can watch the races, and even if I can’t, the BT box will record them so I can watch them later.”
That was the plan. But has it actually transpired that way? Have I actually taken the time out of my life to watch people going round and round a racetrack? Not really. Why? I find the BT sport footage and the process of watching it, too long winded, too clunky, and pitched at the wrong level (for me at least).
What I love about BBC Sport, got bless it, is the lack of advertising. There’s no ‘fluffer’ material, just designed to give the audience something, anything, to keep them on the boil between two lengthy advert breaks. I love the racing, and I think it’s important to see some behind-the-scenes footage, but what I want to see are well produced VT’s of rider profiles, or season summaries, or rivalries. Watching Craig Doyle or Neil Hodgson in the pits is well, the pits. Give me too much of this and I switch off.
BT has also given its viewers with a BT box ’free’ access to BT sport for 12 months. Except it wasn’t free for 12 months, it was free for about 10 months, because in August they changed the rules and downgraded the ’free’ element available to their free subscribers (I’m sure, all within the law) to just BT sport 1.
Big companies can do that I guess. We consumers just have to suck it up, but I can’t help feeling put upon, like someone changed the rules of the game because they felt like it. It makes BT look unprincipled. I will not deal with who I perceive to be the Ryanairs of this world. They don’t deserve my money or my time.
The process I have had to go through to cancel my free (now £5) BT Sport, shows me what BT is all about. They have a beautiful glossy website which is designed to give you the option to add as many new ‘orders’ as you want to your account. But just try cancelling anything, and you will be going round and round from one glossy magazine page to the next, and each offer to ‘manage your account’ takes you precisely nowhere. Annoying aggressive sales loses you customers. Is getting a few cheeky £5 subscription payments because people can’t get through on the phone to cancel their ‘orders’, building the kind of loyal customer base that makes for sustainable business? Methinks not.
Eventually, after a good half an hour sifting through glossy material on their website, you do find a telephone number to call. At least this call centre is in the UK, and I’m lucky in getting through, and speak with a man with a Scottish accent. True to BT’s ethos, he is in maximum sales mode; whilst on the phone, as he was processing my ‘order’ for a free BT sport lite package (I suspect it is a contractual order because they will want to start charging me for that in the future, too) I was offered a mobile phone contract, and he also checked to see whether BT infinity is available where I live. It isn’t.
I don’t have a problem with companies making money, but I don’t like the ethos of the BT website, of their marketing to pull in the punters for ‘free’ and then change the rules. I especially don’t like their long winded MotoGP footage, and the SD picture quality. You can of course upgrade to a HD picture for a little more. Meh.
But then I remember, they are taking on the giant behemoth Sky. If you’re playing with the big boys, you can’t play nice. It’s off with the gloves and time for a bloody nose.
The footage off the racing takes into account the previous two classes, Moto 1 and Moto 2 before the big MotoGP race at the back. This is broadcast as one big lump, so if you record this for later viewing, you have to fast-forward though 3 hours of footage until you get to your race. Can I be bothered? Any time pressed individual (and who isn’t time pressed nowadays) wants to see the race, not someone in the pits speculating about something or other.
I’m not suggesting that BT sport is wrong in their footage, but it’s clearly pitched at fanatical teenagers, not grown men with jobs and families and lawns to mow. I am saying that it could be punchier, more BBC-like. BT’s problem is they have 24 hours in a day, and so their footage has turned into the Moto GP equivalent of News 24, where the poor producer has hours and hours of scheduling to fill and is forced to hire chatter boxes to fill in the airtime with drivel.
There’s only so much you can wring from a motorcycle race, and if you watch the BBC MotoGP shows, and you will see what that is. ‘Always leave them wanting more’ is the way to do it, don’t bore them to tears. People are busy, and have better things to be doing than sifting through hours of broadcasting to find the nuggets. Remember, this is just a load of men and boys riding round in circles.
So no, I’ve not watched the last few races on BT sport, and I’ve downgraded by my free BT sport package (over the phone) which was costing me £5 a month, to BT sport lite. This means no more MotoGP. Frankly, I couldn’t care less. A well written article will be a better use of my time than watching racing on BT sport. Or perhaps I could get off my bum and go and ride a real motorcycle. After all, there is one in the garage. BT sport can continue to cater to the teenagers who don’t yet have the real thing.
If you want to do something good, you need to focus. When you focus, others will get the benefit of your focus. You can tell me what’s on your mind in a quick and engaging 5 minutes, or you could drone on and on about it for 3 hours until I want to push you into a lake. It’s up to you how you deliver your message, but don’t be surprised if I ignore you in the future.
For the love of racing, bring back the MotoGP on the BBC.