SpeedSeries returning to free TV
By Mark Fogarty
Tuesday 14th November, 2023 - 3:58pm
Major national racing is set to return to free TV next year in a new broadcast deal for the Shannons SpeedSeries.
As revealed in the latest Speedcafe Newscast podcast, the SpeedSeries will be shown live and free on the Seven Network.
All 10 rounds in 2024 are to be aired on 7Plus, Seven’s free streaming service.
It’s also understood selected events – or at least portions of – will be shown on secondary digital free-to-air channel 7mate.
The new agreement, brokered by Motorsport Australia, ends the two-year experiment of screening the major second-level categories – including ARG’s TCR and Trans Am – on Nine-affiliated subscription streamer Stan Sport.
Despite extensive coverage with high production values, viewership has been low because most fans rejected paying a full subscription to Stan to gain access to motorsport content.
Stan Sport also provides exclusive live and on demand coverage of IndyCar, WRC and WEC.
Despite two hours of free live broadcasts on 9Go or 9Gem this year, competitors and sponsors cited a fall-off in interest and demanded a return to FTA broadcasts.
Motorsport Australia, which sanctions and promotes the SpeedSeries, has taken back broadcasting rights from Australian Racing Group, which did the Stan Sport deal under its previous regime.
Reputedly, Stan Sport paid for multi-year rights, but the agreement has been deemed unsustainable and canned for a return to an FTA broadcaster.
MA is finalising arrangements to switch coverage to Seven platforms next year, extending an existing relationship that sees the Australian Rally Championship and Australian Off-Road Championship shown on the network.
Seven will re-stake its claim as the FTA ‘Home of Motorsport’, adding the SpeedSeries to its live telecasts of six Supercars events and delayed highlights of the other six rounds.
Speedcafe understands there is also scope for Channel 7 to boost the Bathurst International’s prominence with live coverage on the main channel and 7mate across the weekend.
The new deal will encompass ARG’s primary properties, TCR and Trans Am, as other categories under its umbrella remain uncertain.
Worldwide promoter SRO is taking over Australian GT racing, while S5000 and Touring Car Masters are looking elsewhere.
Seven of the 10 scheduled SpeedSeries events feature the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and the Trans Am National Series.
They all crescendo at Race Sydney and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International next November, again headlined by the TCR World Tour.
The outlier is the ARG-owned Bathurst 6 Hour production car classic at the end of March.
It’s a standalone event without TCR or Trans Am, with a broadcast deal yet to be announced.
Sydney based production house AVE is set to continue generating the SpeedSeries broadcasts, retaining most – if not all – of the commentary team.
Hosted by former Supercars TV race caller Matt White, he was backed by popular commentators Richard Craill and Matt Naulty, plus Molly Taylor and Chris Stubbs in the pit lane.
Supercars star Fabian Coulthard has also been a regular addition to the team – although his absence from the Race Sydney and Bathurst International broadcasts was notable.
The Shannon’s SpeedSeries impending return to free TV is good news for dedicated racing fans, so many of whom are struggling amid the escalating cost of living crisis.