NOTICE FROM THE EDITOR (24/02/11) :
Following the release of several press statements regarding a planned media package, the ALMS has since further clarified the details (and assumed issues) of its proposed media broadcast plans for 2011 onward. The article posted below was written with information made available by series organisers at the time of release.
Despite initial fears that fans without an ESPN affiliated ISP, or those located outside the US would not receive coverage, the ALMS has since responded to issues highlighted in the report below (i.e. ISP/regional access restrictions), and provided an assurance that both live (i.e. broadcast live, not ‘live-produced’), and on-demand content will be made available to fans via both ESPN3 and ALMS.com (the latter of which regardless of ISP/global location).
Although having initially produced a report critical of the original announcement, it should be clarified that SportscarGeek is very much in support of the American Le Mans Series’ plans to a) retain content rights, b) adopt and utilise IPTV services, and c) reduce dependence on a now archaic means of content distribution.
In saying this, it should also be stated that SportscarGeek strongly opposes media agreements with monopolistic motives. Motives which threaten the accessibility of content through forced adoption of ‘premium’ services, under models which restrict access on the basis of both internet provider and region.
Thankfully (providing current releases can be assumed credible) the information available regarding the series’ media package now presents a clearer image of what fans may expect come race day at Sebring. Please relinquish your pitchforks and torches at the door.
Following a period of what has arguably been below-par TV coverage, the American Le Mans Series yesterday revealed the details of its much awaited broadcasting package for the 2011 season and beyond.
The new deal, utilising both online and conventional TV broadcasting services, sees ESPN and ABC take on shared broadcasting duties of the series.
With ESPN securing the exclusive live broadcasting rights (within the US) to all ALMS events, all live coverage of the series will be provided through the company’s ESPN3 online media service, also available through Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming/media service.
The broadcasters’ ESPN3 ‘remote’ service (web streaming) is not accessible to fans outside of North America via the ESPN3.com website, nor via the Xbox Live service. Additionally, US fans wishing to access the ESPN3 service must subscribe to an ESPN-affiliate ISP. ESPN will also provide delayed coverage of selected events via the ESPN2 television service.
ABC’s coverage of the series extends to the provision of delayed ‘docudrama’ broadcasts (reduced to a maximum running time of two hours, edited to depict race defining events/features).
Arriving at a time when North American sportscar racing faces its most brutal struggle in recent history, the announcement has been received with resounding negativity by many fans.
The initial prospect of a revised (possibly improved?) broadcast portfolio had many ALMS fans salivating but, as predicted, yesterday’s announcements have left a sour taste in the mouths of many long-time series loyalists.
In recent times, ALMS TV broadcasters (see: SPEED, EuroSport) have shrugged at the need to broadcast endurance events in their entirety, claiming the demand for such coverage is neither in demand, nor necessary.
The advent of the ALMS live web-streaming service, trialled throughout selected 2010 events (Laguna Seca/Mid-Ohio) had brought hope of a better future for the series and, based on public statements released by series organisers, in addition to the positive attention received by the service, many had believed adoption of an online (series subsidised) stream would be the next logical step for the ALMS.
Despite beliefs the series’ audience is simply ‘not ready’ to adopt such a service, the issue faced by the ALMS is not so much a rejection of the technology, nor the means of delivery, but rather the route chosen.
Electing to utilise the services of a broadcasting platform with obvious reservations toward regional accessibility would always yield negative repercussions. In this case, a net-loss of the series key fanbase.
Although plans for broadcasting outside of North America are yet to be unveiled, the unfortunate truth for US fans has already surfaced, and many are not in approval.
The ALMS has since responded to negative criticism by releasing additional information concerning the initial TV/Digital Live coverage release. The official press release can be found here: http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=paddock|14290
The 2011 broadcasting schedule can be seen in full below:
Friday, March 18 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, March 19 ESPN3.com 10:15 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday, March 20 ABC 12:30-2 p.m.
Friday, April 15 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, April 16 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, April 17 ESPN2 5-7 p.m.
Friday, July 8 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, July 9 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, July 10 ESPN2 1-3 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Sunday, July 24 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, July 24 ESPN2 10 p.m.-12 a.m.
Friday, August 5 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, August 6 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, August 7 ESPN2 10 p.m.-12 a.m.
Friday, August 19 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, August 20 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, August 21 ABC 4:30-6 p.m.
Friday, September 2 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, September 3 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, September 11 ABC 4-6 p.m.
Friday, September 16 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Laguna Seca Saturday, September 17 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, September 18 ESPN2 1-3 p.m.
Friday, September 30 ESPN3.com Live Qualifying
Saturday, October 1 ESPN3.com Live Race Coverage
Sunday, October 2 ABC 4-6 p.m.