Supercars will begin piecing together its post-2020 TV deal this year, according to new CEO Sean Seamer.
The series is currently in the fourth year of a landmark deal with Fox Sports inked for the 2015 season, which saw a pay TV provider take over the broadcast rights for the first time.
Fox Sports now shows every Supercars session live, while free-to-air broadcaster Network Ten has a shared deal for six live races and highlights on delay of the other rounds.
Attention is now set to turn to the series’ next TV deal, with ex-MediaCom boss Seamer, who officially took over the Supercars CEO role at the Adelaide 500 at the beginning of the month, confirming that broadcast rights is near the top of his to-do list.
“I think that’s a natural expectation. Given my background people will be expecting me to be looking at that,” said Seamer.
“First of all, I’m not going to rush it. Second of all we’ll look at what we can learn from other codes and other motorsport entities globally, in terms of how they’re approaching it to get the best value for their fans, partners, sponsors.
“We would expect those conversions would start in earnest this year, given the timelines we’re working towards.
“But like I said, we’re not going to rush it. The primary focus is how to we maintain a fantastic product – and the viewing product, anyone who comes and looks at the cars will tell you how good this product is and the way we produce it. Then, it’s making sure our fans and sponsors can extract as much value from the platform as possible.”
Not fazed by “pay TV battle”
The shift to Fox Sports a little over three years ago was a controversial one, the lack of consistent live Supercars action on free-to-air TV angering parts of the traditional fan base.
Seamer is hoping to shift the focus away from the “pay TV battle” as he investigates a new deal, hinting at a mix of broadcast options including digital.
“There’s probably a bit too much focus on pay versus free-to-air,” Seamer added.
“We’ve got to take a step back as Supercars, and say how do we maximise reach delivery across all media for our fans and our sponsors? How do we look at a mix of digital, free-to-air, pay TV, and all of the different assets and routes to a consumer that we have and maximise that, rather than getting caught up in the pay TV battle?”
That could mean a more aggressive move into the OTT space, following the lead of Formula 1, which will launch its own groundbreaking live streaming platform to a number of markets this season.
The sticking point, however, is the slow internet speeds in Australia – an issue compounded by the delayed rollout of the National Broadband Network.
“Amazon Prime has made a big play for sport, Facebook has started to talk about it. Even the traditional players here, whether its free-to-air or Fox, are looking at it,” said Seamer.
“We’ve got to keep an eye on NBN rollout and making sure we’ve got the bandwidth, because reach is important.
“There is the ability to deliver it, and then there’s the ability to receive it for the consumer.
“That’s the balance we have to look at as we go through the process.”