The AMA roadracing series has been receiving endless amounts of criticism since the DMG takeover. From poor management, to a drastically reduced 2014 calendar, a giant blemish for the series has been the unsuccessful attempts to secure a television package; first for the combined AMA/World Superbike round at Laguna Seca last year, and now for the entire 2014 season.
A (very) late announcement just days before the start of the 2014 series opening weekend at Daytona, offered what many thought was a terrible consolation prize: the entire season would be live-streamed online at Fanschoice.tv, a brand new website that only turned on the power switch the Thursday before the weekend started.
It would be easy to throw AMA Road Racing under the bus for such a late announcement, especially one that still doesn’t offer a traditional TV package, but I have a confession to make: I kinda like this move. I wasn’t so happy with the tardiness of the announcement, but personally, I think watching racing via the internet is a good idea. While I have TVs in my home, I don’t bother padding the cable company’s pockets only to watch a handful of channels.
Since my switch to an essentially TV-less home, I’ve had no choice but to watch racing, including the 73rd running of the Daytona 200, from a computer screen. And with devices like HDMI cables and the Google Chromecast, I can still see the action from my big screen, while checking out live timing on my computer. When you consider the popularity of sites like Netflix, Hulu, and of course Youtube, clearly there’s a trend towards catching our entertainment online. Not just in my home, but likely in yours as well.
So, what did I like about the Fanschoice.tv broadcast? Considering it was their very first outing, the announcing team, as well as the entire show, was pretty solid. I happen to like Scott Russell in the booth, and Barry Boone knows his stuff. I do miss seeing Greg White in the pits, but Danielle Teal isn’t just a pretty face, she’s a knowledgeable ambassador of the sport, too. Plus, having the ability to choose between three different camera angles is something you can’t do with a TV broadcast, either.
Maybe the coolest thing about the new medium is how quickly the races appear on Youtube to re-watch or see for the first time. It’s like having a DVR without paying the fees for one. It also helps to have a large number of riders capable of winning a race in each class. Though nobody can deny Danny Eslick has some of the best celebration wheelies in all of racing.
Without a doubt, there are areas to improve. The on-screen graphics during the race were slim, the main camera rarely captured the battles further back in the field, and many people still don’t know they can find AMA racing (both road racing and flat track) at Fanschoice.tv. The AMA still has a long road to go before it recaptures its former glory, but I think this is a step in the right direction.
And in case you’re wondering, no, the AMA isn’t sponsoring or otherwise spending a dime on this column. I’m just a fan of the sport who has criticised the series’ mismanagement before. Now, I want to give credit where credit is due.