“Motorsport has its issues,” says Eurosport executive

Jacques Reynaud, the vice chairman of Eurosport, gave the keynote address at the Motor Sport Business Forum this morning. He enlivened what had been for the most part a fairly plodding presentation by launching into a demi-rant as he reached his conclusion.

Manufacturers, teams and drivers have to be more consistent about their involvement. Sponsors must continue to activate their support. And motorsport must realise it is in hard competition with other sports.

All parties must realise that they have to stop badmouthing the sport. Yes, it’s part of the game, all this talk of double diffusers and handicap weights, but in no other sport do people systematically complain about the rules and systematically threaten to quit the sport. In no other sport to players pull out, publicly and loudly, to join other series.

It is my gut feeling after 17 years in sport broadcasting that we have reached a critical point. How can fans engage, how can television invest long-term, if motorsport people badmouth, complain about, or even turn their back on the sport because they haven’t got what they want from the organiser.

That shook us from our torpor.

Eurosport broadcasts Formula 1 and MotoGP in some territories, and its events subsidiary promotes the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the World Touring Car Championship. The WTCC has been wracked by internal strife this year; SEAT has publicly chafed about a handicap measure introduced to limit the potential of its turbodiesels, and BMW has been complaining about weight penalties almost since the series began.

We have to avoid professional myopia. Motorsport is an entertainment form in competition with other sports. We have to be careful that football doesn’t take it all.

Some non-automotive advertisers are hard to convince to embrace the motorsport environment, for reasons I mentioned earlier, but also because some think motorsport needs a green revolution. If this trend continues, monetising motorsport will become difficult – and most motorsports will end up on special interest channels rather than the strong TV stations they’re on at the moment.

Was that a dig at Motors TV?

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  • Comments (4)
  1. Was that a dig at Motors TV?

    Or rather a dig at mainstream broadcasters who continue to compromise Motorsport coverage for the sake of other sports, or worse, celebrity dancing competitions!

  2. While mr Reynaud may have a point, all this already happened with the FOCA mess in the early 1980s. Yet the sport survived and became stronger. If the sport has personalities fans will want to support (Mansell, Senna, Schumacher), the rest will follow.

  3. Yeah, WRC will no longer be available for me… as I watched it on Astra satellite for free during the past 5 years. No way I’m paying to watch Motors, ciao-ciao WRC!!! Although WRC has a decent website to be honest, good enough to not have to watch it on telly at all.

  4. Formula One is a macho soap opera. Casual fans need the drama to keep them interested.

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