Mar 24, 2014

Posted by in Bikes

A New Era of MotoGP in the UK

A New Era of MotoGP in the UK

All over the internet, at the usual motorsport sites today, you’ll find reviews, opinion and analysis of the opening round of the MotoGP championship that took place at Qatar over the weekend.  Discussions of all the on track action between Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. Debate over the new rules.  Predictions for the next round.  So I shan’t be contributing to that discussion here today.  I want to talk about how the Great British MotoGP fans, for one weekend, seemed to take off their usual dayglow yellow coloured glasses and put on some very rose tinted ones.

This was the first round covered by BT Sport in the UK.  Last year BT Sport paid a fair ole whack of cash for exclusive rights to live MotoGP in the UK.  There will be a one hour highlight show on ITV on Monday nights, but other than that, it’s BT all the way.  Gone is the BBC’s coverage.  Gone is Eurosport’s coverage.  BT have made a huge push with MotoGP bringing in a huge on air team, utilising North One for their production team, scheduling more hours of MotoGP on TV than there’s ever been before and even adding a discussion and panel show about MotoGP, the likes usually reserved for football and rugby.  So, how did they fair?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first.  I am no fan of BT.  I have had many a dispute with them over the years on account of the fact I live in the UK.  Everyone who lives here has, at some point, dealt with their incorrect billing, questionable customer service and whilst I’ve never had a BT HomeHub or BT Broadband I am assured by those that do that’s it’s about as hit and miss as Glen McGrath at the crease.  I have no brand loyalty to BT.  I don’t work for BT.  I have no home phone with BT.  I had to pay extra to get BT Sport in order to watch their new ‘wall to wall’ MotoGP coverage.  Hell, I don’t really even like BT.  I wouldn’t defend their company if my life depended on it.  Their MotoGP coverage, in my opinion though, was a superb shot in the arm for the sport in this country that was unfairly and inaccurately mauled in some quarters this weekend.  So get your hate mail ready Twitter.

MotoGP fans in the UK are about as precious and fickle as any fan of any teen pop group and they were out in force this weekend.  Monitoring the @btsportmotogp Twitter was a sport in itself.  The ‘fans’ were ready to hate and they hated with force.   They hated Melanie Sykes as host.  I saw her referred to as ‘pig shit’ multiple times. They thought James Toseland was a ‘pretty boy’ and a ‘cabbage’.  Grand Prix podium man turned commentator Keith Heuwen was told he ‘knew nothing about bike racing’.  There were some people who I’m not sure got a chance to watch any of the racing as they were too busy telling their five followers how horrible the colours of the microphones were.  I’m not even joking about that one.

‘THE BBC WERE SO MUCH BETTER’, they hollered.  ‘EUROSPORT HAD THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE’, they cried.  As always everything before was better than it is now.  Short term memory loss and rose tinted glasses were out in force.  Let me remind punters of a few things.

The abuse for the BBC’s coverage over the past few years was relentless amongst the same people who now longed for it.  They spent five years telling Charlie Cox he was an arsehole and an afternoon yesterday professing he was Murray Walker.  They moaned about all the cutting away to interviews and hosts and such.  The BBC did this also and then often, due to scheduling, ran out of time to even show the podium.  And then to Eurosport. Eurosport showed everything, they said.  Nope.  Friday morning sessions were never televised.  Warm up on Eurosport was always delayed.  As was the main race.  ‘I hated the grid interviews on BT, Eurosport did it better’, I saw over and over.  Sorry, what?  Eurosport didn’t have a camera on the grid, ever, and not even audio for the past few years.   Some people didn’t just remember things better than they were, they also made shit up.  I’m not defending or deriding one broadcaster over another here, I’m simply pointing out some facts.

bradley-smith-interviewed-by-bt-sport-139467436104808302And then came the complaints that the broadcast focused on the British riders too much.  It’s called BT Sport for Christ’s sake.  Did you watch the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics?  Have you ever watched a home broadcast of an NBA game?

There was also much lambasting of the ‘terrible presenters’.  Think back.  Matt Roberts, Suzi Perry, Azi Farni, all the names thrown about as better yesterday were once green, inexperienced and awkward on camera.  They got better with time.  You know, like all humans do at things.  Once I couldn’t walk or talk or anything.  Keith Huewen was, at times, all over the place in the comm box but he’s a quality commentator who will find his feet over the first few races.  He’s been away for a while remember.  Christ, on my first day back at work after just a few weeks off I can’t even remember my login.  Keith commented himself on Twitter he was thankful to Julian Ryder, sat next to him, for giving him space over the weekend to try and work his way back into things after many years away from MotoGP commentary.  The difference between his comms on Thurs to Sunday was already a marked improvement.  And James Toseland, co-anchor, is a double world champion with bags of experience.  He’s a great face for MotoGP in this country and, surprise, surprise, he looked a bit nervous anchoring a live TV show for THE FIRST TIME EVER.  It will get better and it didn’t start out too bad at all.  Think about that.  Even the first episode of Mad Men wasn’t that good.

‘Bring back Toby Moody’ was one of the most common things heard this weekend.  Toby Moody and Julian Ryder commentated together for many, many years on Eurosport.  They were hugely popular amongst hardcore fans. Now, I’m a hardcore fan, and someone who is paid to write about MotoGP elsewhere, and I always enjoyed their work together.  But I also remember there were many people who disliked them.  Because, you know, people are different right?  But now they have been silenced.  They were wrong.  Things are always better how they were until they’re not.  Different isn’t always bad.  And I like Toby.

day-2-mel-will-front-bt-sports-comprehensive-motogp-coverage-in-2014-139285200977402302And then there’s Melanie Sykes.  An odd choice, perhaps, but she’s a well known face and a pro presenter.  That’s what she’s there for.  Not to talk tyre pressures, but to anchor.  Notice how she did the links and then asked Toseland about the racing? Funny that.  And, for a first time out, she did an ok job.  Was she brilliant?  No.  Did she stumble a little?  Who doesn’t?  She’ll get better.  She’ll learn more.  Some of the abuse levelled at her online this weekend was some of the most disgusting, mysoginistic bullshit I’ve ever seen associated with MotoGP.  It was depressing to say the least. Remember, everyone savaged poor Jennie Gow the first time she started doing motorsport and now is loved on social media for being in the mix of F1.  Suzi Perry, who for some reason seems to be the absolute greatest presenter in the history of sport for many people, was nowhere near the knowledgable host she was at the end of her time on the BBC compared to when she started.  Experience, chemistry, relationships, this all takes time.  Like or her not, you don’t have a long presenting career in this country without knowing what you’re doing.

marc-marquez-interviewed-by-bt-sport-136388692071608302And the inexperienced, in TV terms and MotoGP knowledge, were balanced out by the steady hand presence of Julian Ryder in the commentary box and Gavin Emmett on the ground.  Ryder has been one the main voices of motorcycling, worldwide, for so many years he’d probably rather me not count them.  And Gavin Emmett has spent more time prowling MotoGP paddocks than most of the riders.  Having Gavin on the ground, and not just up in the booth as he has been for recent years with Nick Harris, is a stroke of genius for mine.  He is on good terms with everyone in the paddock, a well known face, and is able to get the interviews and such few others can. Because he didn’t speak to your favourite rider doesn’t mean he’s doing the job wrong.  The same goes for Neil Hodgson in many respects.  He knows his stuff, he’s just a bit raw to TV.

And there were some great new innovations.  Hodgson’s lap, Gavin and Matt Birt in the paddock and the single best coverage and representation of Moto3 and Moto2 this country has ever seen.  That last bit is a fact.

The other thing people don’t seem to realise, with this, or anything really, is that TV is not made specifically for you Mr Twitter or man on the comments of you know what site.  There is a wider audience.  It caters to a lot of people.  Some will like it all, some will not. Some will like some aspects, others won’t.  Then you tune it as you go along.  Your opinion is not the right one.  It is your opinion.  It has not been peer reviewed and published in Nature.

There was a lot of love for the new broadcast as well.  Something a lot of the haters seemed to ignore with the usual comments of ‘EVERYONE HATES THIS AS MUCH AS ME!’  No.  BT is offering more coverage, to a wider sporting audience, than ever before.  There are bound to be new fans as well as old fans.  At the moment they have, I think wisely, tried to do a bit of everything while they find out what works.  It will be honed over time.  Ben Affleck might be ok as Batman.

Then came the ‘Why should I have to pay for it complaints’ which baffled me the most.  If you weren’t paying for the BBC coverage you’re about to be fined for skipping on your license fee.  And then as you complain that MotoGP is a niche sport so it should cater to the hardcore fans, you then complain that you shouldn’t have to pay for the glut and privilege of 20 plus hours of coverage of a marginal sport.  Seriously?!  I don’t think every Australian Rules football game should be televised in Britain because I like it.  I pay for a premium channel to watch that.  By the same token when a massive thing like the FA Cup Final, which I could give two tosses about, is on the BBC, I don’t jump online and demand a portion of my fee back.  You see, the thing is, people like different things and sometimes they even like different things about the same things.  Life is complicated isn’t it?  MotoGP is a niche sport.  That’s a fact.

So here’s my point, 1500 words later.  People hate change, that’s no surprise.  But what this BT Sport MotoGP launch has shown me is that British MotoGP fans really need to work on their manners.  They turned Casey Stoner away from a charity event with their attitude many years ago.  This weekend weekend their tiny little minds have decided that different is bad and that the overall promotion of their sport is less important than how they liked it better when Suzi Perry flirted with Colin Edwards.  

And it paints the greater picture of the internet these days.  The internet is one of mankind’s greatest achievements up there with vaccination, space flight and pizza.  But it’s also a shortcut to being an irrational dickhead.  This is hardly news.  It’s just interesting that people who you usually be abusing Rossi or Marquez or Lorenzo united for one weekend to complain about a woman’s teeth and the colour of a man’s windsock.  Can we take a step back and realise that complaining about 20 plus hours of live coverage of a minority sport seems a little, well, short sighted especially for a first live broadcast?

So, yes, it’s been one race people.  And in one race we’ve seen more coverage, more interviews, more new attempts at promoting the sport than this country has seen since Barry Sheene.  Give it a chance.  Calm the fuck down.  And if you still don’t like it, subscribe to the channel.  Or learn Italian and buy a satellite dish. Telling BT that you think Mel Sykes is ‘dumb piece of shit’, funnily enough, makes you look more like said piece of excrement.  It wasn’t perfect, no.  No-one said it was.  But it certainly wasn’t ‘ear rape’ either which I saw mentioned at one point.

You didn’t like it.  I thought, espeically for a first round, it did a sterling job.  I appreciate our opinions will differ I just think mine seems to be a bit more rational and less, shall we call it, flamey. But here’s the thing.  It wasn’t objectively terrible because no such thing exists.  And perhaps you ought to take a closer look at your imaginary version of the past for just a second.  £12 a month for the amount of coverage they’re giving this niche sport we love seems pretty good to me, never mind the other stuff on BT Sport (which I have no real desire to watch though to be fair).  £12 a month is three pints.  And like a pint, watching live motorcycle racing is a luxury purchase, not a state demanded right like healthcare or a post office.  Oh, wait…

PA1483091So in closing, I remind you again, I don’t work for BT.  I don’t even like them as a company.  But what they’re trying to do with MotoGP, a sport I love, is worth a round of applause, not 140 characters of a knee jerk response because it’s not exactly what you want.  Nothing ever is.  And at the end of the day if you’re watching MotoGP surely the thing you’re most into is that which is pictured on the left.  The season kicked off with a beauty.  Don’t let a guy mispronouncing Espargaro once or twice ruin that for you.

(Pics copyright to BT Sport)

  1. Everyone did their job to the best of their ability it seemed. When mel Sykes gains knowledge and a relationship with some of the riders/teams she will add more, as an anchor she kept it moving. Gavin was excellent and James just needs confidence, his knowledge and experience are unquestionable. The commentary boys were excellent, focusing on the technical and having a racers experience to say how much issues would affect riders. My personal favourite was the new martin brundle aka Hodgson, to risk the wrath of cal at the end was superb, riders are usually given a few minutes to compose themselves, cal was still sweating like a racehorse and glaring like a madman. (Deservedly so) top job boys it will only get better!

  2. Phil Yeldham says:

    What a breath of fresh air. An excellent piece, probably won’t be read by all the haters sadly.

    On a personal note. I thought for a first event. They did a brilliant job, as you say they will get better!

  3. Well written piece. Most of which is pretty much spot on. It wasn’t bad coverage for a first effort. What was missing despite being promised every wheel being turned was going to be shown was race day warm ups. I thought all the presenters did a pretty good job with one exception, Mel Sykes. She may have been there to anchor the programme and she might be a professional day time TV presenter, but she looked terrified, she was pretty clueless, she didn’t carry off her presenting with any true skills. Her own history on twitter makes her look a fool anyway. I’m sorry but in my opinion she is just not up to this particular presenting job. Going to ruin what will otherwise be a pretty good programme.

  4. Tony Bush says:

    Bloody well said! You should pat ya self on the back for such a well written piece. Thought bts got it spot on myself. Cheers

  5. I don’t know why the Brits would complain, I would kill to have that kind of coverage in Australia!

    • Margaret says:

      We very nearly did. Every practise, qualifying and warm up race in all classes was shown live on Foxtel. There was no studio presenter, and Nick Harris and crew were commentating and in pitlane. I have had the Foxtel sub for years and this was a great surprise and ad free. So much better than the commercial riddled racing we have had to put up with on a certain free to air channel for the last few years.

  6. Well written piece which I enjoyed reading. I can see both sides of the argument, yes BTSport want to give as much as possible which is good as we are paying for it, but it’s a little OTT to be honest, Keith and Jules did a great job, even tho I am also a Toby fan, and Gavin is great in pitlane, but that’s all we need, Mel, James and Neil are not needed, it’s to bitty. I’ve watched motogp on Eurosport since 1996, and as a fan can say anything other than free practise, qualifying and the races, is of no interest to most of us. BTSport can save a lot of money by getting rid of excess personal, and I’m sure they will realise that as time goes by.

    • Hi Cliff, please speak for your self I really enjoyed the coverage and can only see it getting better as the team both in and off camera get to know each other. For me this is a great article that summed a great weekend of racing and much improved coverage, good luck to the BT team.

  7. Excellent piece, wich actually made me think about some of my (unpublished) reservations about the coverage. I’m not a fan of BT either,I do like Toby Moody but I was a club racer in the 80’s when Keith Huewen passed though on his way to the Grands Prix, I know that he has history in the sport & as you say he’s been away for a while.
    Whilst it is a shame that it’s not available on free to air TV for those you truly cannot afford it I consider most of the bleaters are in the “won’t pay” category.
    I may not happy but I’m willing to pay my suscription to see the kind of coverage we are getting & personally I love the fact that all the British rides get airtime.

    • Hi Cliff, please speak for your self I really enjoyed the coverage and can only see it getting better as the team both in and off camera get to know each other. For me this is a great article that summed a great weekend of racing and much improved coverage, good luck to the BT team.

      • Hi Nev
        Don’t understand the “speak for yourself” comment, I was, & I too enjoyed the coverage & the article & I agree it will get better with time.

  8. Trunkman says:

    I disagree Penny. They are trying to create a TV Show not just new commentary over the world feed from Dorna. The behind the scenes stuff, the anchoring, the interviews and all that sort of stuff makes it event television which is how all successful sport coverage works. Seeing the paddock and riders first hand, not just through stories told by commentators makes a massive difference over time.

    • Fair comment, not for one minute saying I’m right, just saying what fellow fans have said since the whole thing was announced, everyone has their own opinion and that is mine and my friends, I for one won’t be watching anything other than the track action

      • I am with you Penny re all the extra bits just not needed. In future will record it instead of watching live and fast forward. Thank god for Sky+
        The only thing I would like is a button for commentary on or off. I don’t really enjoy any of the commentating – I would if they actually commentated on the race as it is happening but they do too much wittering on and then miss what is happening in the race.
        BT coverage is better than BBC who used to say and now press the red button to watch the rest of it. No good for those of us at work and recording it!
        Will have to keep on trying to win the lottery then I can watch it live at the track and won’t have to suffer the commentating or the filling in segments. 🙂

  9. dave richardson says:

    Yes picture content was second to non, unfortunately information has to be accurate the public expect and belive every word the experts say, racers should know flags I completely expected that the team would have rehersed a format using old coverage unfortunately not, it came a cross as disjointed and clunky with nerves showing,maybe it will get better bit it skould have been that way from the off

  10. OK I am not a BT hater BUT, what really hacks me off about BT Sport having the live sole UK rights to this lot is “I have paid for BT to buy from Dorna within my landline charges”. OK I am a long time TalkTalk customer, but whether I like it or not, a whole chunk of the money I send to TalkTalk ends up with BT. Basically,they bought the rights to MotoGP with your and my money. BT are a highly cash rich company and did not have to go the money institutions for the cash to buy this; they went to their own piggy bank. No massive interest paid, nothing, just a minimum of interest from their cash pile going west. Any competition never stood a chance….AND then i have to also fork out £12+p/m to watch it, having helped BT to buy it cheap in the first place!!!!. And Dorna – what are they thinking of, to go from a million followers on UK BBC TV to less than a quarter of that, made up to 500,00 by allowing ITV4 to show it 24hrs later, generous. (Sponsors who needs em??)

    • Trunkman says:

      I think you’ve made a lot of incorrect assumptions there Richard. Yes, BT used ‘your’ money but everyone company uses their customers money for investment. That’s how business works. Apple used the money I gave them for my computer to make a new one that I then bought off them again, bastards. It’s a bit of an odd argument that one, in my opinion. That’s not BT’s problem, that’s just how a capital company works.

      And from every team manager or PR person in a team that I’ve spoke to they think the BT deal is infinitely better for them than the BBC. They get much more screen time, especially in the lower classes, and they are targeting a sports audience mostly not just channel flickers or the Beeb being on in the background. It also gives them room to breathe. To be able to tell stories about their riders rather than just have the races on. Look at this weekend. The amount of coverage someone like John McPhee got was more in three days than he’d get in a year on the BBC.

      • Look guys I am not a general winger, usually at least a “pot half full” person. I must be, having a stake in an F1, BSB running, Sidecar team – talk about minority motorsport. My real financial beef (if you can call it that) is any company wanting to get into televising a minority sport would have to borrow from the financial institutions and pay interest!! NOT so with BT. And BT vs BBC having just read the viewing figures, they are worse even at the peak than BBC ever achieved for Qatar. OK the BT coverage is more in depth and maybe team, PR, etc appropriate but grabbing the attention of Joe public is never going to really happen is it.. OK argue away with me… I am also sure Dorna are interested in statistic of all sorts. So to the action – I watched ITV4 last night and Keith Huewen never shut up and Jules said very little, except to bail out KH, to be honest I did not think it was very good – I also missed the odd comment chipped in by guests as well. Will it get better on ITV?. From a first watch it seems to me that ITV4 got/did the worst of everything – I wonder if BT passed on the one hour programme (all wrapped up) warts an all, or whether ITV got the whole, goodness knows how many hours output and divided it all up as they saw fit – all in all it was in my opinion nowhere near the calibre of their normal M/C output, the TT for eg. And finally to all of you out there who rubbish constructive criticism, who do you think BT and ITV will be really listening to….

  11. Couldn’t agree more. Some people just love to moan. Great job for a first attempt.

  12. Couldn’t agree more. Some people just love to moan. Great job for a first attemp.
    Yes, the BBC were good, but with the increased coverage and a little time, BT sport can be just as good if not better.

  13. To us pensioners who wasted our income on racing instead of pension planning £12 per month is a big deal.

    • Trunkman says:

      I really do appreciate that, but you have to also appreciate that it is a niche sport and ‘free to air’ can’t afford to cover every niche sport or TV show if it’s not profitable for them in terms of an audience. There’s a reason MotoGP, the NBA and NFL and such are on paid services in the same way HBO TV Shows are.

      Also I think it’s free if you have a BT phone line or broadband but I’m not sure as I have neither.

    • Bigwow, a pound spent on racing is never a pound wasted. Adrenalin comes at a price 🙂

  14. Good piece and thanks for putting all into perspective, though I do agree that it felt as if Mel and JT were a little surplus to requirements, Gavin in pit lane was excellent and never doubted he would be with his many years in Motogp paddock, I’m sure it will get better and what a great race to open with and hopefully get a few more interested in the sport.

  15. Personally I thought the coverage wasn’t even average or good, I thought it was VERY good, and this is their first ever weekend. The future is looking bright.
    Oh yes, and I couldn’t agree more about BT as a telecoms company being idiotic morons on occasion. But I take my hat off to them for their MotoGP coverage. My only real criticism is that it’s a shame they couldn’t find a job for Azi Farni, who is not only knowledgeable and very bright, but is also super-cute!

  16. Really enjoyed your comments, I like a lot of others really enjoyed eurosports coverage over the years & moan about change. Moaned about 250s going, moaned about 125s going, moaned that 2 strokes had gone, moaned that BT had got the GPs (found a way to watch it here in France)Anyway after watching the first races was very pleased with the BT coverage, did think they had a few too many presenters but have read some will only be at selected races, for me they had the balance of the coverage just about spot on, enough time to cover subjects, interviews, podiums etc & the Brit riders are getting great airtime, what do some people expect from a UK broadcast. As for online abuse, that is so out of order, some can not be pleased at all, no matter what they watch, would they like to see no coverage? I would be miffed if I lived in the UK as I wouldn’t want to pay BT, but can not knock the show so far.

    • How did you manage to view the coveage in France? I do not live in the UK and would have liked to have had access to the BT feed. I would be more than happy to pay the subscription fee.

  17. Neil Gillett says:

    Good article, thoroughly agree. I always thought BBC’s coverage was pretty poor to be honest. How many times did we miss the podium? Usually always tried to watch on Eurosport. I really enjoyed all this weekend’s coverage, some minor teething problems but how could anybody expect anything else for the first race. I also watch the rugby on BT Sport, same thing happened here. People moaning, some glitches but now it’s MILES better than Sky’s rugby coverage ever was (and don’t even mention BBC’s woeful efforts at rugby …). BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage will be the same, much better than ever, I’m sure of it.

  18. We all enjoyed everything about the motogp coverage,some people do not like change,i suppose you can’t please everybody .with time you’ll be wondering why people were moaning . Keep up the good work.:-) the only problem i have with BT Sports is that i need tivo on virgin to watch on my phone.:-( guess i will have to upgrade

  19. I’d love to be able to subscribe to watch it but as BT lines are not available where I live ( and never have been ) and I don’t have Sky I’ve had to resort to paying

  20. Well done. I’ve been watching GP since about 1999 on Eurosport only, and I think BT sport did an excellent job. How can I complain at all about having over 20hrs of one of the best if not the best sports in the world to watch(wife’s not to happy about it though) FORZA VALE

  21. Very well written piece, and completely spot on.

    Anything that goes from (perceivably) free to a defined cost will come up against those who are not willing to assess whether or not it’s value for money. 18 races over 8 months equates to £5.33 a race for SD or £6.66 for HD. For the breadth and depth of MotoGP over the race weekend that is excellent value, and is supporting a sport we love so it may continue in the future.

    Of course it’s even better value for BT broadband customers at free or £3 for HD (£1.33 a race!!) And whisper it – but BT aren’t actually anywhere near as bad as people like to make out!

  22. Totally disagree with your opinion!

    The images come from Dorna who allow BT to broadcast it exclusively in the UK for £3m. All BT have to do is put a programme around those images, and what they came up with was the vision of someone with no idea!

    Expert bike riders don’t make good TV presenters – as we all now know. The same goes for commentators – I even considered putting my feed on mute while Keith Huewen was talking bollox and preventing Julian Ryder from any air time!

    It seemed to me that there had been very little rehearsal. They might have had a run through or two, but with the responsibility of giving hardcore fans (and not being free to air anymore, this coverage is not going to appeal to casual viewers) what they paid for, they just tried to wing it. Maybe they used the usual BT mindset that the viewers had no other option?

    I usually don’t just moan, I tend to do constructive criticism, and this is no exception. What would I do? I would have a much smaller team. One commentator – if they didn’t want a big name, they could have used someone who is currently commentating in club racing – just make sure they know how to transfer the action on the track into relevant words.

    I would have a track reporter who was a girl – it helps keep the racers polite and happier to talk. Maybe someone like Maria Costello. I would have the ex-racers available for a post race debate – and that would be set up like hard core racing discussion, full of technical stuff, but designed to allow the kind of debrief that we now see in Rubgy or football.

    Finally, I would have a single, professional presenter with a bike history. I won’t name names, but there are plenty of them out there. Their job would be to chair the show, move it along, and to keep the ball in the air when things go wrong.

    TV shows are difficult to put together, and I don’t doubt BTSport will get better, but really we shouldn’t have to wait and it wasn’t worth £12 – That’s the price of a £200M Hollywood blockbuster on DVD, that is what I expect! That is why Twitter was alive with justifiable (as well as some just nasty) complaints.

    We’ve known since the middle of last year this was going to happen – so why did we end up watching something that even performing arts students would have been embarrassed to produce? Its got to get better, because it couldn’t be much worse!

    • Foul, just so you know, Dorna do all the camera work for every channel. Even when the BBC had the coverage, all the cameras are controlled by Dorna and they choose what we see and what we don’t. Every channel that shows motogp have to ” put a programme around those images” , whether it be in Italy, Spain, America or anywhere else everyone sees the same footage.

  23. Stella Campbell says:

    Thank you,a man after my own heart.
    Excellent article.
    That apart I have never had a problem with BT.
    More power to your journalism.

  24. I agreed with everything you said! Really well written piece! I watched it on the bt player through my pc with the ipad used for live timings and it was great. Its the coverage I’ve been longing for. BT covered absolutely everything, I can’t believe the vast amount of hours they aired motogp over the whole weekend. My only worry is BT will drop the coverage hours in the future.

    As for the team, they were great. A few things annoyed me such as Keith talking over Jules but that got less as the weekend progressed. And Sykes lack of Motogp knowledge is noticeable but I am sure she will get better over time.

    GREAT WORK BT!! Keep the vast amount of coverage hours coming every race weekend and you’ll have a customer for life in me!

  25. I completely agree with you about the bias towards the British riders – what do people honestly expect? It’s a British channel, they’re obviously going to be the main talking
    point besides the potential podium contenders. And I say this as someone who isn’t really interested in our boys all that much.

    I am however utterly bemused by the inclusion of Melanie Sykes. The channel really doesn’t need someone there to purely bridge the questions and footage. Whilst I’m thrilled they retained female presence, surely someone with knowledge and a love of the sport would be have been better? The BBC coverage was far from perfect, but Azi Farni was always a highlight for me. The riders loved her because she actually knew what she was talking about and, maybe most importantly of all, because she actually cared, too. I’ll always remember how emotional she was when Loris Capirossi retired. For me, a love of the sport and the people competing in it is paramount for me to enjoy any sort of coverage.

  26. michael shaw says:

    You make a big thing about vile comments posted by some race fans. You must know Internet chat sites are notorious for those kind of obnoxious ignoramuses. which is why i generally don’t join, use or visit them. Then you seem to do the extreme opposite by promoting bt sports brilliant business model, astronomical show and excellent fair value. Which makes me question your impartiality.
    Personally i never had any doubts that bt were going to put on what they regarded to be an impressive show, with that line up of presenters and their colossal amount of money. I so much wanted to watch the qualifying and race (without the soap, drama and endless chat!) as i cant remember missing a meeting in nearly 25 years. Keith n Julian were brilliant way back then.
    Please if anyone can correct me where and how im wrong… You say bt sport is only 12 quid a month. Well 2 weeks ago i nearly pressed the join button, but with essential living costs and not much work over the past few years i decided i couldn’t afford it. I worked out the cheapest deal would have cost me pro-rata for the ’18 month contract’ nearly £30 a month. That includes the land-line fees. etc, etc, etc
    Thats a monopoly and blackmail. Expecting us to subsidise their (bt) extortionate football contract costs through the back door and lining footballers bulging pockets. No chance. My motorcycle sport is going the same way. Fleecing me more and more each year. So my decision was also one of principle.
    Excuse me if im being way to synical.

  27. Ralph Beales says:

    You’re a journalist; you’re British and you don’t know the difference between ‘licence’ noun and ‘license’ verb!
    Now I’ve done the spelling and grammar NAZI piece, I’ll cut to the chase.
    I agree with every word you’ve written. You’ve put into words, my thoughts, when I read some of the comments to which you refer. How can anybody slate that coverage? You might have found some fault with Ryder, nobody would mind that (especially Dave Calderwood and Roland Brown) but I loved the coverage. Moto3 was a superb race and the cameras covered lots of riders and jockeying during the race. Roll-on Texas; I’ve set the whole to record.

  28. It was their first attempt. They are all new to it! I for one loved it all, mistakes included.
    As a Manc it was great to hear (and see) Mel on screen. Didn’t she scrub up a treat for the race show?! It worked for me and I’m counting the sleeps to the next race, partly because of the changes to the racing this year but also because of the superb wall to wall coverage.

  29. Neil Flanagan says:

    I can’t really argue with any of that… spot.

  30. Jimmy Mullen says:

    Top man….well said……..

  31. A superb piece, well written and well presented.

    I pay for BTsport simply for he MotoGP coverage. I watched the coverage with interest as, in this climate, it is a luxury to pay £15 a month just to watch MotoGP.

    I have watched MotoGP (or the GP’s as they were known) since 1980. In 1986 I started watching it live on TV via Screensport and later, Eurosport. In recent years I changed over to watching it on BBC.

    A few thoughts. First on the provider

    Eurosport was diabolical. Sky+ hardly worked as the races were regularly shown late with the resulting loss of the last couple of laps on the recording.
    BBC regularly swapped coverage to “red button” only, thus screwing up the Sky+ recording even more.
    BTsport blew both these providers out of the weeds with their coverage. Every program started, and finished, on time. Content was well balanced and very informative.

    Now to presenters.
    Ryder needs very little comment from me. The guy is a presenting legend. He knows the riders and the sport. His knack of pulling a factoid from nowhere is astounding. He can not be bettered.
    Heuwen is ring rusty, but an extremely knowledgeable ex-rider. I remember with fondness his commentary on the classic Rainey/Lawson/Doohan races and his inside information. He will get better.
    Toseland is a total newbie to presenting. He did a cracking job (Saturday haircut aside!)of being the “techie” anchor.
    Hogdson is another newbie. His confidence on the starting grid was a joy to behold. Only James Whitham could have done better (and he has years of experience). Hogdsons interview of Crutchlow was superb. It showed not only his own confidence and willingness to get in someones face, but also the less publicised, though well known, attitude of Crutchlow.
    Mel Sykes probably was the weakest link. But again, she is new to the sport. She will make a great anchor after a few races, and her northern accent makes a great chance from the bleating of some (ex) front ladies.

    On the subject of presenters, a few memories of ex-presenters.
    How anyone can consider Toby Moody a God of MotoGP presenters is beyond belief. When he joined MotoGP he was TERRIBLE. He didn’t have a clue about bikes and constantly compared them with racing saloon cars. In fact, he still does. Watch his commentary on ITV and count how many racing car manufacturers, racing car drivers etc he mentions. His real passion is car racing, and it has always shown.
    His worst fault though, was to constantly refer to who had won the races prior to the one being commentated on at the time. The number of times I have watched MotoGP live, only to be told who had won the earlier Moto2/3 races was a joke.
    Suzi Perry is another one who was terrible when she started out. Her flirting with Colin Edwards was the only reason she kept a job in presenting for a couple of years. He nickname of “Suzi no knickers” kept her employed. Watch her now in F1, she still hasn’t found her feet. To compare her to Mel Sykes is unfair unless you have watched Suzi for as long as I have!

    I have never watched as much MotoGP as I have in the last week. The Practices, Qualifying and Races of all 3 formulas was brilliant. Seeing documentaries and films about the sport, and its riders, was an added bonus.

    Well done to ALL the BTsport team. Please ignore the Twitter Plebs and carry on as you are. You will sharpen up and things with get easier.
    And if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. Moody and Perry have been blagging a living out of MotoGp for years without any improvement or apparent talent

  32. ken summerton says:

    Very well said, and it is the truth. it can only get better. it was a good job done.

  33. Michael Shulver says:

    On the money! Great piece. If this is what BT can do at the first attempt, then we are in for some great coverage over the summer. Could do with an engineer in the mix. I really enjoyed Spalding’s insights in Eurosport.

  34. I must admit….I was upset that the commentary dream team of Jules and Toby wasn’t to be continued across channels. I’m of the age where I breifly caught the tail end of Jules and KH doing WSBK……I remember KWs voice annoying me then….as it did at the weekend.

    A personal preference perhaps? tempered by years of Eurosport coverage.

    I was lucky enough to watch the practice sessions and therefore the resurrection of the commentary team of old. Within 5 minutes KH had my sap rising again….yes it was going to take a little while to bed in….but the repetative fat jibes at J was jsut annoying.

    It got to the stage where Pasini was having constant moments on corner entry of there was KH rambling on about the virtues of KFC and fast food outlets springing up in Middle Eastern countries. TBH, I couldn’t give a flying f**k at that moment, I wanted some insight as to why the Foward Racing bike was having such issues.

    I must admit though that as the weekend wore on the coverage did show its potential. I’m going to reserve judgement until mid season as I would for the potential of riders new to the class/ with new teams.

    I did catch the cheesy mid-week show last night.

    Iwan Thomas’ hair??? WTF?
    Craig Doyle sounding half pissed

    Seems like it has potential though…. that trainer bike thing was a bit glitchy and reminds me of the Sega Tourist Trophy game of old.

    Again, its the first broadcast so I’m hoping that will settle down and gel too

    All in all all, good show BT Sport….but I still reserve the right to mute when KH starts spouting bollocks!

    (Good write up by the way)

  35. Mciracer says:

    BT apologist!

    Watching morning practice in MotoGP is very unnecessary and Eurosport did well not to do so, This allowed them to concentrate information in FP2 and you know what that does?
    It makes the session that much more important and exciting!
    When you have commentators repeating things they said a few hours ago things become a bit silly.

    MotoGP isn’t formula 1 and having a Brundle esk grid walk isn’t possible to re create so no interviews on the grid isn’t a loss.

    The only important thing to remember here if anything is that BT didn’t join the coverage lot for a year to work out kinks etc, they literally removed all choice and said take this pile of shiet and be happy for it.

    You and everyone who makes excuses for BT sport known any company whos first approach is to pay for dominance doesn’t deserve it.

    But then again the sport did take the money.

    Worst motoGP coverage ever, they are already ruining a great season with their shiet.

  36. A well balanced piece if you like to hug trees and tickle fairys. You are correct a lot of the abuse going round and personal comments about the presenters is bang out of order. However Dorna and bt have taken away the choice of the coverage that we as fans can watch.

    Interestingly you talk about20 hours of live coverage which you are correct in saying, the problem comes because bt do not run the bt sport like a player. So it is great if you have 20 hours to sit around and watch over the weekend or indeed to record on a box the try to catch up.

    In my humble opinion bt race commentary was passable, but the restof it is complete rubbish and verging on unwatchable, again I agree that nothing is perfect and it takes time for things to gel. Bt though have a very long way to go and not just with the presenting team but the way as fans we can access our favourite sport.

    This is defiantly a case of money over the fans and sport. Which is indicative of sport today. I have been involved with bike sport at a lot of levels for many years and the way money takes over is hard to watch and this shows in moto gp with the size of the grid.

    Personal insults are very rarely called it is difficult to contain ones self when a sport we love and have passion for. At the first race we have a woman who can hardly walk and talk at the same time, and a man in the pits who points and says there’s a bike on a stand while dribbling on his own shoes.

    We now have no choice so we have to put up or shut up. I do hope it improves and we still have British and world super bikes. Which I think could very well outofthenew coverage.

  37. None of this matters, although the commentary was laughably abysmal.

    What matters is the notion of highest bidder wins rights irrespective of long term implications. What matters is that the sport totally lacks any vestige of serious investigative reporting, specifically following the Dorna accounting and their relationship with various institutions. Watch this space:

  38. Dave Thomas says:

    A well written, well balanced article. I agree with most of the comments. Mel Sykes needs more practice, Keith and Jules need time to gel as do the other guys. What is seriously lacking though is the techy input from @spalders, this would seriously round things off (Randy Mamola would be the icing on the cake)
    All in all I thought it was grate coverage

  39. gordonsalive says:

    We all get used to change in the end, but for gods sake please show the whole podium like eurosport did, ie; soaking the girls in champers then sharing the top spot for a photo, this cutting back to the studio just as the cork is popped pisses me wright off.

  40. stuart stickler says:

    It’s not a question of the quality of the coverage, or the presenters, it’s about having to be a BT customer, with all their crap service, I know I was once once – never again, it’s about having to pay approx £120 per annum to receive the broadcast. Considering I already have to pay an over inflated amount to receive a poor BBC service it’s too much, so Dorna and BT can shove it!

  41. Craig Doyle meh….so so. Melanie Sykes on the other hand can’t present in my view. She actually put me off watching or if I did, I ended up with vomit in my mouth

  42. First off I am American, if that makes any difference. I have been watching BT do MotoGP since that first year. I being American and that being my first year watching MotoGP, have watched every race since the beginning on BT Sport.

    Now today, 21/11/2017 as you Brits would format it LOL, Julian is leaving BT coverage. I have to say I am going to miss him very much. He made the weekend so much more enjoyable. It was like having a regular, everyday ‘bloke’ in the box.

    I love the whole team and was happy when Suzy came back from doing F1, which I also follow. I also happen to like the pro-British stance of the BT team. That’s how it should be, if there was still an American racing (R.I.P. #69!) and we had decent coverage, I would expect it to be pro-America! That’s normal, the same thing is done in Formula 1.

    I just want to say I enjoyed this article, these few years later and found it to be very enjoyable looking back. Thank you!


  1. Five Things About Round One | Trunk Talk - […] MotoGP landed on BT Sport this past weekend with wall to wall coverage of everything and anything (except warm…

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