Saturday, August 17, 2013

FOX Sports 1 Thoughts... From a Motorsports Fan

John Marine | 8/17/2013 12:25:00 AM | | | | | | | |
(UPDATED: August 20, 2013)

Speed Channel will become FOX Sports 1. Fuel TV will become FOX Sports 2. This will be a most sad deal for fans of (respectively) motorsports and action sports. The main hub for FOX Sports will be FOX Sports 1- which will dissolve Speed Channel. With Speed Channel's departure, the television voice of motorsports will be silenced forever. That is... unless someone starts a new dedicated motorsports network. This blog post is my own sort of opinions regarding FOX Sports 1... at the expense of Speed Channel.

This is going to be a lot of reading, but I have MANY thoughts to share here in my blog post.


AUG 20 2013 - made some edits; added another section

--- Remembering Speedvision and Speed Channel ---

Let's set the mood with a picture:

FOX Sports 1
^ from: (FOX Sports 1's Twitter feed) - FOX Sports 1. It will replace Speed Channel. You will sorely miss Speed Channel if you are in any capacity opposed to FOX Sports 1. Get to know FOX Sports 1 by visiting the FOX Sports 1 page.

Before I offer my thoughts on Speed Channel becoming FOX Sports 1, let me share with you an article someone posted online and shared in an online forum:

"Speed's owner, Fox Sports, has decided there is more money to be had in a multisport channel. It will shutter the motorsports channel and convert it into Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17.

The move brings an end to Speed's nearly 18-year reign as the only motorsports channel on U.S. television. The move takes Charlotte's only national cable channel dark. And it eliminates the only place in NASCAR's backyard where people could spend their entire day talking about and working exclusively on TV motorsports.

Speed did not offer the best-paying jobs in cable. It was not the most-watched network in sports. But it was a place where people lived their passion - an office where Formula One wonks, motorcycle gearheads, NASCAR nuts and car-collection zealots gathered daily to determine how their passions played across the country.

Speed paid staff with a different type of currency - the type of stuff former Speed President Hunter Nickell called "psychic income."

"It's what made it exciting and fun, so when the end comes, it's deflating," said Nickell, who's now with IMG College. "That isn't questioning the business decision. The business decision makes sense.""

-from: "The final days of Speed" (SportsBusiness Daily)

Just on some of the material alone in what I quoted, you can tell what passion was put into providing a proper home and forum for motorsports and automobiles and for how long. What Speedvision and Speed Channel have provided was a proper TV outlet for fans of both cars and racing. Racing fans whom have loved Speed Channel and dislike this FOX Sports 1 package would gladly love to see FS1 fail.

The Speedvision Days.

There was a reason why I wanted Speedvision- a variety of racing action that no other network could provide. I was a budding sportscar racing fan that got into racing in 1998. For as much as ESPN/ABC and TNN (then known as The Nashville Network, later became The National Network some time in 2001, now known as Spike TV) provided auto racing coverage, many of the kinds of racing I was longing to see was nowhere to be found. Speedvision had it, and I was glad to finally get to enjoy Speedvision starting in about 2000. I saw my first-ever 24 Hours of Le Mans live in 2001. I loved the heck out of Speedvision for its variety of content and its various car shows. The various car shows even include coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and the various modern and classic cars that show up on the auction block. It was even great seeing what was then called "Speedvision World Challenge"- great high-level racing featuring touring cars and GT cars. I was even introduced to events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival among MANY other racing events. Even though it was not motorsports, I even liked watching luge during the Speedvision days. Besides automobiles, Speedvision even had shows for fans who loved airplanes and watercraft (boats, jet skis, powerboats, etc.). It was a channel that really cared about motorsports and almost anything with a motor.

I also adored Speedvision because I was getting rather tired of NASCAR. Then a bit in 2001, there was a slight shift over to NASCAR coverage. Then in 2002, Speedvision would relaunch from Speedvision to Speed Channel, and would move its coverage from Connecticut to Charlotte, NC. Enter...

The Speed Channel Days.

It was in 2002 when Speed Channel launched, providing much more racing coverage; but it would also have much more NASCAR influence. The channel still remained true to its roots in providing a variety of racing coverage. Speed Channel to racing was like what MTV used to be to music. Even with more reality shows and other material other than racing, even with more NASCAR and other kinds of Americana racing, Speed Channel has been the premier motorsports TV voice for 11 or 12 years. There is better dedication and love of racing expressed by Speed and their many personalities that ESPN/ABC could never equal or better. The car material was even great with shows like "Pinks," "Pinks All-Out," "Test Drive," and more. There were also other shows and such like "Gearz," "Truck U," "My Classic Car" (which used to be on TNN), "Unique Whips," "Wrecked," "Forza Motorsport Showdown," "Street Tuner Challenge," and more. Even shows featuring the late Tom Hnatiw were on, like "Dream Car Garage" and "Sports Car Revolution." The Speedvision World Challenge then became Speed World Challenge with the new Speed Channel. Among many of the original programs were two very popular shows that kept racing fans connected weekly- "SPEED Center" and "Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain."

Different programs started coming and going throughout the entirety of Speed Channel, even including rights to show certain races. NBC and the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) took over for Formula 1 racing after Speed was the main TV home. Speed Channel aired loads of American Le Mans Series races before ESPN/ABC took over. Speed Channel used to air a lot of AMA Superbike racing, but the coverage has mostly shifted over to CBS Sports Network (formerly CSTV (College Sports Television). None of these were really big signs that Speed's concentration on motorsports coverage was dying. One time earlier this year, Speed Channel was one of various FOX networks to air a game of the English Premier League. To the dismay of many motorsports fans, vented at Speed Channel for something other than racing. People on Facebook even got on Speed Channel's Facebook fan page venting their frustration at Speed showing a traditional stick-and-ball sport on a channel about motorsports. With all due respect, if I wanted to see traditional stick-and-ball sports, I'd watch a channel or two dedicated proper to those sports. Don't force-feed me stick-and-ball sports on a racing channel. Even as I was enjoying Speed for what it is, imagine how I felt when news of FOX Sports 1 came along. So...

Enter FOX Sports 1.

This is the channel to compete with ESPN and others in the premier general sports network market. It all seems like a money grab just so FOX could better profit with sports besides with the regional FOX Sports channels. I was someone on Facebook who said that I was okay with FOX wanting to make this general sports channel. What I WASN'T happy with, however, was this channel coming at the expense of Speed Channel.

FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 (which will replace FUEL TV) will still air racing on the networks. Just that this will be motorsports coverage mixed in with other sports.

(ADDED: August 20, 2013)
FS1's UFC coverage from its opening night raked in 1.78M viewers. This was told to be 10 times greater than the combined audience of Speed Channel, FOX Soccer Channel, and FUEL TV. The viewership among the 18-49 demographic for FS1 was reportedly 25 times greater than the combined audience of Speed, FOX Soccer Channel, and FUEL TV; and also 40 times greater among adults in the 18-34 and men 18-34.

The source on these ratings numbers is from Variety (link directs you to article).

Let me share some memories now.

--- My Greatest Memories ---

These are some of many memories I have of Speedvision and Speed Channel:

• seeing (then) Speedvision World Challenge and Speed World Challenge before the move to (then) Versus (now NBC Sports Network)

• seeing the (then) JGTC for the first time on television back in 2003 based on the 2002 season

• watching a mere GT Porsche win the 2003 24 Hours of Daytona in the debut of the Daytona Prototypes in 2003

• seeing series and shows like "Pinks" and Pinks - All Out."

• seeing Tom Kristensen pass Jacky Ickx for most outright Le Mans wins (I almost wanted to cry happy tears) in 2005

• (even though I didn't see it live) the epic farce that was the 2005 F1 United States Grand Prix

• the epic GT2 finish of the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring

• watching the first ever F1 night race with the Singapore Grand Prix

• seeing the unreal finale of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix- Maasa wins race; Hamilton wins championship

• watching NASCAR Trucks race Eldora

• "Motorsport Mundial" and "Mobil 1: The Grid." 'Nuff said.

• I've LOVED the "Legends of Motorsport" and "Victory by Design" series.

• watching "On the Edge" and its amazing varied programs and races

These are all among many different TV memories I have from both Speedvision and Speed Channel. Maybe you fans have your own?

The main points I want to stress in this blog post are coming up. I am providing a Jump Break for blog performance reasons and to get people to read my proper post. I hope you're enjoying this blog post so far. If you are not reading the full blog post, and if you enjoyed what you read so far, I invite you to click on "Read More" to see more of my post. If you want to get social with me, please use the table below to connect with all of my online work. Again- click "Read More" to read the rest of this post.

Thank you for reading!

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--- Saluting Speed Channel and Other Musings ---

This is really the meat of my opinions regarding FOX Sports 1 killing Speed Channel. This encapsulates my own true feelings regarding Speed Channel as it becomes FOX Sports 1. Note that this blog post was posted before FOX Sports 1 officially takes the airwaves. That is why I am using the verb tenses I am using now. Literary arts aside, here are my own opinions.

Making the Case for Speed Channel.

Even if you weren't a fan of Speed Channel showing more NASCAR than most other motorsports, how do you make the case for what Speed Channel brought to television? I'll offer my own ideas here.

Maybe my biggest problem with this whole FOX Sports 1 deal is just how FOX could have decided long ago to discontinue Speed Channel if they felt it could not generate as much a following and as much money as they could. But no- they didn't because motorsports fans and car lovers needed and appreciated a television forum that celebrates cars and racing. Speedvision and Speed Channel were those voices. Sure, the money was an important indicator of success, but no amount of money could ever replace the passion of bringing and discussing motorsport to many peoples' homes. Speed Channel was that television voice for as long as the network has been around- even in the Speedvision days. I remember for the longest I have wanted Speed Channel as I was becoming more and more of a racing fan. I still felt like I got (then) Speedvision too late to enjoy the kind of racing I really wanted to see. The eventual thing is- I eventually got Speed and enjoyed it.

Speedvision then relaunched into Speed Channel and brought along a lot more Americana and a lot more NASCAR influence. There were times I even had some problems with having to have NASCAR interruptions when I was watching some great races and some other great events. Still- I was connected as a racing fan. No offense, but why would I care about NASCAR Trucks at Michigan when I was watching and getting excited over the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Speed Channel remained the premier TV voice of motorsports. ESPN/ABC, NBC/TNT, CBS, or anybody else could never duplicate the sort of love and devotion and dedication provided by Speed Channel. This was the network where I got to appreciate and respect talent such as Bob Varsha (my personal favorite motorsports announcer), David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, Leigh Diffey, Sam Posey, Dave Despain, Alain de Cadenet, Andrew Marriott, Justin Bell, Tommy Kendall, Greg Creamer, Ken Stout, and Jamie Howe among many others.

You could make the case for various shows that were hit-and-miss. Some hits include original shows like "Pinks" and "On the Edge." Misses include original shows like "Texas Hardtails" and maybe even "I Want to Date a Race Car Driver." I never cared for shows like "Pass Time." Of course, more people would prefer Speed be more about racing and not about shows. Yet many would still agree they'd rather see a bad car show or a boring race rather than almost any traditional stick-and-ball sport. I am not saying that motorsports fans aren't sports fans too (I'm certainly one who loves motorsports and regular sports), but there are those whose first love is motorsports before any other. I am one of those people who love motorsports before any traditional sport.

If you care anything about racing, Speed Channel becoming FOX Sports 1 is the end of an era. It is also a sign that TV is further dying. Not too long marked when G4TV- a channel devoted to video gaming- was suddenly rebranded as the Esquire Network to compete with Spike TV. Launched not too long ago was a channel made for online programming and mobile device programming entirely devoted to various car shows and motorsports events you can't find anywhere else online (legally, of course). But I hear this online-only deal may also be phased out as part of the FOX Sports 1 takeover.

What the Loss of Speed Channel Brings.

There is a reason why Speed Channel had importance. Think about this for a moment. We have a channel devoted to the National Football League for NFL fans. There is a channel for NBA basketball. Pro baseball fans can enjoy the MLB Network. If you love hockey, the NHL Network is for you. FOX already has a channel for those who love soccer/football (as in association football). Even if Speed Channel seemed more about NASCAR than any other kind of racing, at least NASCAR fans had a proper channel for which they could enjoy NASCAR programming on TV.

Motorsports coverage is a lot different from traditional sports because there are many subcategories of motorsport just as much as there are different kinds of sports. Some love Indy cars. Some enjoy drag racing. Some love motorcycle racing. Some (like myself) love GT/Sportscar/Endurance racing. Some love kart racing. Saturday night at the dirt track or the short track is fun for stock car and sprint car fans. Other people enjoy off-road racing, like rally racing. And there is a reason why I use "motorsports" rather than "motor racing" in this context, because some others like drifting, tractor pulling, and demolition derby- even though they are not really considered "racing" events. In addition to a love of racing, there are those who simply love cars. Speedvision and Speed Channel managed to bring together a love of automobiles and motorsports and provide a proper television voice to market and promote both worlds to the masses.

Another thing to consider with Speed Channel's departure is the Charlotte sports market with Speed's departure. No offense (and pardon my language), but what the hell else does Charlotte have? I always know Charlotte as a major motorsports market even in a basketball-crazy state like North Carolina. Or do you fancy teams like the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Bobcats (soon to regain the Hornets namesake), the 49ers of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, or the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox's Minor League Baseball affiliate)? NASCAR is religion in Charlotte. So Speed Channel was huge as a sports voice (let alone a motorsports voice) in Charlotte. This voice will be silenced basically forever once FOX Sports 1 takes over.

It's even worse for Canadians since Canada will likely miss out on motorsports coverage for FOX Sports 1. They may likely be relegated to motorsports coverage on networks like TSN (The Sports Network) and CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I haven't the best idea what Canada has as far as motorsports coverage is concerned, so Speed Channel's loss will hurt even Canada's market.

FOX Sports 1... at Speed's Expense.

FOX could probably profit better with a dedicated sports channel. Speed Channel still managed to hang on and be a proper motorsports outlet for fans. FOX probably have or had lots of money to possibly make their all-in-one sports channel. My problem does NOT pertain to FOX making this channel. My problem relates to Speed Channel (for lack of a better expression) being slain and be reborn as an all-in-one sports channel to compete with ESPN. The same could be said with FUEL TV dying and becoming FOX Sports 2. Where else will there be a proper TV home for motorsports? Why kill off what Speedvision and Speed Channel successfully accomplished in their respective times? What... are motorsports coverage and automobile material no longer marketable or cool to where it can last longer than it could? I'd rather watch hours of NASCAR coverage on a dedicated motorsports channel than various sports on a channel trying to compete with ESPN. This is basically FOX seeking money and urinating on motorsports fans while pointing the middle finger at them by replacing Speed Channel. This is FOX ending an era and silencing a motorsports voice. While motorsports will still be covered on FOX Sports 1, it still will do nothing to fill the void left behind from what Speedvision and Speed Channel brought. Many racing fans even hope FOX Sports 1 fails miserably.

Motorsports Future on American TV?

Now if you want a dedicated motorsports and automobile channel, you may as well move to Europe and get Motors TV. Or at least hope Motors TV wants to make an American channel much like how we have BBC America aside from BBC Worldwide. Yeah. How's THAT for a novel idea? Motors TV America. Imagine that.

If some other network decides to provide a proper devoted motorsports channel, I hope that network or channel can learn from Speedvision and Speed Channel and try to cater to them in much the same way both Speedvision/Speed Channel have done for nearly two decades total.

Offering Thanks.

All I can say in the end is... THANK YOU, SPEEDVISION! THANK YOU, SPEED CHANNEL! It is surely the end of an era. You will surely be missed. While I don't mind traditional sports, motorsports will always be my first sports love before any traditional sport. So I am very disappointed Speed Channel has to die and be reborn as FOX Sports 1. I guess money is more important than offering motorsports and automotive material. If Speed Channel lived on as usual whle FOX Sports 1 became a separate channel, I'd be happy. But no- Speed Channel *has* to die and be reborn as FOX Sports 1. The channel that didn't mean much money-wise lasted for as long as it did thanks to the devotion and passion of motorsports fans. Even if people don't like NASCAR or more NASCAR than any other form of motorsport, Speed Channel (as well as FUEL TV) basically die in vain. At least such motorsports fans would gladly watch seemingly endless NASCAR content than even a single minute of most traditional sports on any network.

Some people fail to realize the importance of some things in life. Some others don't really know what impact something can make. That's why I am showing my appreciation for what Speed Channel brought to motorsports and automobile fans. I think Speed will live on, only without a TV channel dedicated to motorsport. Racing will SURELY live on, but one of the finest platforms for discussing and showing racing will no longer be with us once FOX Sports 1 takes over. So...

Saying Final Goodbyes. :(

Once again...

Thank you, Speedvision.

Thank you, Speed Channel.

Thank you to all personalities past and present who provided their love of motorsport and cars in the days of both Speedvision and Speed Channel.

It is just a terrible shame that this is the end of an era- an era that hurts worse than a root canal or a heart attack. If motorsports on TV were on life support, the life support plug was pulled from Speed Channel. Appreciate and admire what both Speedvision and Speed Channel brought to the masses for nearly two decades. Those memories will all be just that- memories. Thanks in part to FOX wanting to compete with ESPN in sports media at the expense of Speed Channel (and FUEL TV). I guess money and fame were more important than keeping afloat the only TV link between automobiles and motorsports. A great channel- even if it wasn't much a cash cow or anything financially successful in the long run- killed off while that channel's website is now a blog? I hope you're proud, FOX. I hope you're damned proud. Way to shut out and disgrace us motorsports fans. This is an epic fail on your behalf, FOX. Congratulations.

--- Motorsports Fans React ---

(UPDATED: August 20, 2013)
These are various links to online material as fans mourned the loss of Speed Channel. Look at these links to get perspective from other people who miss Speed Channel:

SPEED Is Dead, Fox Sports 1 Is Alive, And Here's The Sad Transition (Deadspin)
Voices of Speed: The Enthusiasts' TV Channel Goes Dark (Car and Driver)
Fans Of The Speed Channel Are Pretty Upset About The Arrival Of Fox Sports 1 (SportsGrid)

Here is a video tribute of Speed Channel from an online friend of mine:

^ "Speed Channel Tribute"

And this YouTuber decided to uh, rant about Speed going down (some mild bad language):

^ "No More SPEED Channel RANT"

One last tribute to SPEED Channel covering Formula 1:

^ "Speed Tv's 17 Year Run Broadcasting Formula One Tribute Video"

Are you one of those upset fans? Do you dislike Speed Channel's slaying? I'll add more interesting links and material if I see anything else worth noting.

This was a lot of typing from me, but it is nothing unusual if you are a regular reader of "John's Blog Space." Speedvision and Speed Channel have meant a lot to my life as a consumer of TV media. They have both played a huge part of my life as a racing fan. Now, those memories will be buried forever as Speed Channel makes its sunset and FOX Sports 1 makes its sunrise. I conclude this very long blog post filled with opinions and commentary. To everyone who stuck with me through this post, thank you for reading!

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