Motorsport Network, the company which runs Motorsport.com and AUTOSPORT amongst others, has acquired the Motors TV network, it has been confirmed.
Zak Brown, the Chairman of Motorsport Network, said: “Today’s news to expand our commitment to automotive from the global digital presence we are building with Motor1.com and our digital motorsport estate including Motorsport.com and Autosport.com into the broadcast arena is a bold step to build a genuinely integrated platform across small and large screen alike. The investment will enable us to create the very first dedicated broadcast ‘home’ in our expert areas of performance motoring and motorsport”
As documented on this site, Motors TV has been in financial trouble historically, more of which has come to the limelight this year. In February, Motors TV’s UK channel briefly disappeared from Sky whilst court proceedings were issued against the French company in May. The takeover from Motorsport Network was due to be concluded in June, but were never finalised due to the court proceedings.
I’m undecided as to whether this takeover is a good or bad thing. We’ll start off with the good: the channel will be in high-definition from March 2017 and will be available on a vast array of devices such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. This should open the horizons and hopefully allow Motors TV to tap into a new audience. I’m all for bringing new people towards motor sport, and there is real potential that having a dedicated motor sport channel, with performance motoring also covered, ran by people with money behind them, is a very good thing indeed. The channel should find it more straightforward to attract rights holders in the future.
However, the press release implies that Motors TV will be leaving Sky in 2017. The press release states that “2017 will mark its transition from traditional linear broadcasting to a Video on Demand (VOD) service with the launch of Motorsport.tv’s new digital platform.” It is unclear whether the Motors TV name will disappear, stating that Motors TV will be “absorbed” into Motorsport.tv suggests that the Motors TV brand will cease to exist. In the short-term, I don’t see Motors TV disappearing overnight but can see it happening within the next year.
It feels like Motorsport Network has bought the Motors TV name to remove a competitor. After all the existence, or lack of, where Motors TV is concerned would not have stopped them pressing ahead with their digital platform plans. A monopoly is not a good thing. Yes, Motors TV’s picture quality is poor and a relic of the mid 2000s but it provides coverage of local, club series on a UK level. Will those series get as much coverage in 2017 on the new look Motorsport.TV if the Motors TV brand on satellite disappears? Alongside this, there are much bigger concerns about the linkages between Liberty Media, F1, Motorsport Network and Zak Brown.
Is it healthy for the motor sport media landscape on television, new media and beyond to be intrinsically linked to each other and owned by the same group of people? Personally, I don’t think so.
Update on November 23rd – It looks like Motors TV will be staying on Sky in the UK and potentially broadening its pay-TV reach abroad as well.