Normally, when I mention the need for a Formula 1 over-the-top service, the first comparison is with the WWE Network, which launched in 2014. But, there is a comparison that can be made with a service much closer to home. Enter the MotoGP Video Pass.
For the 2016 season, fans in the UK have only had access to the premium option due to the television contract in place with BT Sport. The option costs €199.00 across the whole season, dropping pro rota as the season progresses. The remaining four races (Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Valencia) costs the customer €44.95, or £40.41. The standard pass costs €99.95, but is not available to UK readers.
With 18 races a season, this currently works out as:
- Premium: €11.06 / £9.95
- Standard: €5.55 / £4.99
Across the year, this works out as the following per month:
- Premium: €16.58 / £14.91
- Standard: €8.33 / £7.49
In comparison, the WWE Network costs £9.99 a month. Netflix ranges from £5.99 to £8.99 a month for their premium option. Amazon Prime at most costs £7.49. If anything, the MotoGP Video Pass is slightly on the expensive side considering the range of content that you receive with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. If anything, a third tier is perhaps needed for the MotoGP Video Pass: retain the high-end Premium pass, but drop the standard pass slightly and introduce an in-the-middle pass.
However, there is a major problem with the MotoGP Video Pass. It is a one-off payment for the full season, not a monthly subscription. Not everyone wishes to pay ~£160 out in one go, and instead would prefer to pay it monthly with an option to cancel. The fact that there isn’t an option to do that is surprising. I imagine Amazon and Netflix’s subscription numbers would be lower if consumers were forced to pay the full amount out at the start of their contract instead of a rolling monthly payment.
It is also worth noting that the customisation is not available for the standard Video Pass, only the premium pass, which should not be a surprise when you see the respective prices. In any case, I’ve parted with £40.41 now for a premium subscription which will run out on November 14th. The main reason for this is so I can watch Motegi and Philip Island without the fear of walking into spoilers a few hours after the race has finished. Half way through the registration I’m reminded what is included: live and on demand coverage, six live feeds, audio mixer, classics and the extensive video library, amongst many more things. Sounds pretty good, time to dive in!
Layout and usability
It is astonishing how easy it is to get the UI of a website wrong by failing to follow basic standards. There are some basic principles to follow when designing a website from page layout to the colour scheme used. The interface needs to be reactive for all devices. The best phrase I’ve come across in this fora is KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. When someone has paid to access the Video Pass, in return they should get an interface that is neat, and does what they expect. Anything that falls short of the minimum standard, and the customer will be expecting a refund.
The MotoGP Video Pass is aesthetically pleasing from the get-go. There are seven drill down pages which can be accessed from the navigation bar:
- Best of: This is the landing page, consisting of video content generated for this weekend’s race, but also historical content that has relevance on this day. For example, the landing page contains content related to Toni Elias’ win in the 2006 Portuguese MotoGP and the 1992 Japanese Grand Prix which was Dorna’s first MotoGP race.
- Live: The live World Feed. At the time I’m writing this, the feed is not active, the next session due to start is in eight hours’ time for the Moto3 warm-up. Heading to this page also gives you a detailed history of the most recent sessions that have. happened, which may be useful if you had to dip out of something half way through.
- 2016 Season: Video links to every single session from the 2016 season so far. This page contains a relatively spoiler-free screenshot of each section. But Dorna have appreciated that fans may want to just see a chronological listing of every session without any context, which is where the next tab comes in…
- No Spoiler: A simple idea well executed. A no-frills, spoiler free page which lists every session going back to 2002. Want to watch the 2004 season without any context whatsoever? Not a problem. Each video page has a different layout depending on whether you wish to watch with or without spoilers.
- Show: An in-depth look inside the world of MotoGP, from technology insights to off-track gossip.
- Past Seasons: A mirror of the ‘2016 Season’ page, but instead for every season from 1992 to 2008.
- All videos: Everything that has been uploaded to the MotoGP video vault.
It is a straightforward process, and everything is accessible within three or four clicks, as it should be. For example, to access the 2004 South African Grand Prix, it is a case of pressing ‘Past Seasons’ on the navigation bar, clicking ‘2004’, scrolling down to the foot of the page (it was race one) and pressing ‘MotoGP Race – Full session – betandwin.com Africas´s Grand Prix’. It is that simple, as it should be.
One element I’m struggling to see is a way to quickly watch and organise, for example, Marc Marquez’s classic races. Can I bookmark six races to watch later at a time convenient for me? The organisation is excellent and well thought through, but tailored ‘driver’ pages with all their best races in would be a nice addition. Anyway, the main reason I’m here is to watch the MotoGP qualifying session from Motegi. So let’s get to it.
The video interface
Remember that for every session from 2002 onwards, there are two entry points: a spoiler option and a no-spoiler option. With that, you’re presented with two different interfaces when you load up the video. The no-spoiler option takes you straight into the session.
The spoiler option presents you with three different options:
- Full Video: Identical as the no-spoiler option, except the spoiler interface contains bookmarks of all the key moments.
- Condensed Video: Plays all of the pre-selected bookmark moments only.
- Customize Session: Allows you to select which of the bookmarked moments to play in full.
The condensed versions are nice to have, but I couldn’t imagine using them if I was using the Video Pass in anger, simply because the condensed video clips are likely to have been uploaded to social media in a much quicker time frame. However, they may be useful if you’re watching a historical event and only want to watch the key battles for the lead.
The interface itself, and the customisation available is immense. Going from left to right:
- Settings (toggle): Choose between low, 360p, 540p, 720p and Auto for video quality.
- Updates: Session updates as you are watching. This was blank for me irrespective of which option I chose, so I think this is active only during the live World Feed.
- Highlights: Switch to the key moments in the session. This is blank if you’ve chosen the no-spoiler option, but shows the bookmarks if you’ve chosen the spoiler options.
- View: This is where the customisation really begins. Choose your choice of six possible multi-screen options. Once you’ve chosen your multi-screen option, drag in the cameras you wish to choose from the options available.
- Cameras: Choose from the World Feed, four on-board options, live timing and live tracking.
- Audio Configuration: If you want to watch MotoGP without commentary, this is the place for you. Mute the commentary, choosing the ambient sound only, or the on-board of your choice (assuming you’re watching the on-board feed in question)
In essence, if you wanted to watch the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying session from the perspectives of Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, with the World Feed in the background without commentary, you can do that. The live stream might be different, but not once did the interface crash with the amount of tweaks I was performing to the layout on-screen.
My experience so far is excellent with the Video Pass. There are no glaring omissions as far as I can see, nor any usability mishaps. It highlights how far behind Formula 1 is with their online offering. The pass is everything a MotoGP fan would want, and perhaps a little bit more as well.