If I’m going to be honest, I am not a MotoGP ‘super fan’. Whilst I do watch the MotoGP race each race weekend, I do not commit myself to watching of the other action. Sometimes I do watch MotoGP qualifying along with the accompanying BT Sport coverage, depending on what else is happening that particular weekend and dip in and out of Moto2 and Moto3 throughout the year.
The announcement that Marc Marquez was going to be on MotoGP Tonight was one that surprised me, in a pleasing way. Considering The F1 Show over on Sky Sports has never managed to get a current, or recent past, World Champion on their show (for example a Vettel or Button) in the past two and a half years, the fact that BT Sport managed to get the 2013 MotoGP champion on within their first year on air covering MotoGP I thought was quite a coup and reflects well on them. It left some wondering how Lewis Hamilton would fare as a guest on a live edition of The F1 Show. I personally would like to see this, the fact that Sky have not done this yet is surprising. If he wins the championship, then Sky should try and pull out all the stops to get him on the first F1 Show after Abu Dhabi.
Admittedly watching MotoGP Tonight with a high profile star compared to your run-of-the-mill studio episode of The F1 Show may leave me with a slightly biased opinion here, however from a presentation point of view, I did find several differences between the two shows. Starting with the similarities, and clearly both exist to do similar things. Previewing or reviewing a particular race, albeit to varying degrees, and getting the fans closer to the action. Both shows have a studio audience. Sometimes, this works well, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not going to regurgitate a piece from Daniel Puddicombe earlier this year, but he painted a clear picture of the positives that a studio audience brings back in April.
The first difference between the two shows, obviously is the studio. Which sounds stupid to say, but it is interesting to see how both are used. BT Sport have their expansive studio, yet cleverly make the crowd ‘huddle’ around almost, creating an intimate atmosphere, which worked well. Compare that (which you can see in the above video) to The F1 Show where the audience is spread around with the entire floor left to the presenters. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes. MotoGP Tonight looks colourful and inviting whereas The F1 Show could be in a spare studio in Sky’s headquarters for all we know (answer: it isn’t).
Without wanting to do a blow-by-blow account of the show, I’ll do a brief summary for those who did not watch. Craig Doyle and Iwan Thomas presented the show, with Marquez and Ross Noble as guests. Gavin Emmett and Abi Griffiths were also on hand. The great thing here was seeing Marquez in his own clothes, which might sound weird, but for me outlined that it was not Marc Marquez the rider coming to say things to please sponsors. It was Marc Marquez the person. It felt more personal as a result, as a viewer that is important to me and draws me in to a particular show or segment. It is more spontaneous this way, and it feels different too. Later in the first part of the show, Marquez leaped into Thomas’ arms which was mildly amusing to see!
The audience was clearly having fun and getting involved in the show, cheering, clapping, laughing whenever they see fit, which was in my view a complete 180 from The F1 Show where you rarely hear the audience when someone is talking, even if they try and make a joke. Whether the Sky audience are told beforehand to “be quiet”, or the MotoGP audience was more rowdier because of the guest I do not know, but it does not come across well to the viewers. We did get a bizarre moment later on as Thomas and Noble tried to demonstrate ‘bike leaning’ with limited success, it was interesting to say the least! The only slightly cheesy bit was James Toseland promoting his new single, although in the context of the show being genuinely light-hearted, I was fine with this. The tone of the show meant that it fitted in well. There was also the lean machine, which it was great to see Marquez on. Abi Griffiths worked the social media aspect, asking Marquez questions from fans.
Overall, I really enjoyed the hour. It was not designed to be a analytical look at the next race or previous race, it instead was designed to bring the viewers closer to the rider, and in my opinion BT Sport did that perfectly. I had someone say to me that the show was “everything [that] The F1 Show could, and should, be”. I wholeheartedly agree. Whilst I haven’t sampled any of the other MotoGP Tonight episodes on BT (surprisingly this wasn’t capitalised on the following week instead they had a hybrid Highlights show), I felt that they got this episode bang on the money.