Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Alternative Ways to Watch Sports

I've got into a lot of conversations with people about going cable-less lately and the same topic always comes up, what do you do about watching live sports?  I'm an avid spectator of auto racing including: NASCAR, IndyCar, F1, Global RallyCross, and La Mans.  I also have been known to watch a football game (go Green) from time to time.  You may be asking yourself, but how does one watch all these events without the benefit of the SPEED channel or five different ESPNs or TNT for NASCAR in the summer?

As you may know we (the USofA) are in somewhat of a lul in the money market, and motorsports are hurting.  Sponsorship drives motorsports, so if the sponsors are hurting, the league is hurting.  If the league is hurting, its trying to get as many fans to fill the seats and watch there races as possible.  Some are successful, some are trying, and some, well you don't hear about them :)  Leagues are realizing that they need to start posting feeds on the web to stay afloat.

If you post full races on youtube, for example, more people are going to watch it because no one else does that.  That's exactly what IndyCar did with all of there races so far this year (link).  I must say, brilliant move on there part.  IndyCar has been slowly dieing in the heart of america.  However, this year seems to be a step in the right direction and has them grasping the new generation of tech-savvy people.  Being able to watch any race is really great (are you listening Bernie Ecclestone?!?!) and is bringing more fans to watch the races when they come to a neighborhood near you.

Another great step forward is ESPN.  Having no cable and watching ESPN can now happen with watchESPN.com.  Here they post a lot of replays for the not so popular sports including: Global Rally Cross (a new up-and-coming rally sport), ALMS, college football, and much more.  The best part is, if you have internet (which most people reading this post do) then your provider probably did a deal to get you this.  If not then you should storm the gates demanding action (just kidding, no riots because timtim said it was okay).

NASCAR has taken a similar approach for the races that are not on over-the-air stations (fox).  They added free "race buddy" which gives you 6 onboard cameras (with radio for that team) or a couple battle scenes.  This really helps for the races that are normally on TNT or ESPN.  Just head over to nascar.com and look for "Race Buddy".

Formula 1 is really a disappointment for american fans.  Sure they have the race recap, usually showing up a week or two after a race, but other than that you have to find online streams of replays.  Don't get me wrong, those race recaps on formula1.com are steller, but I want more.  F1 is supposed to be the most advanced motorsport in the world, but yet there coverage is spotty at best.  I do enjoy watching the BBC/Sky coverage more than the guys on Speed, but maybe its because they don't have commercials every 2 seconds.   On another note, speed.com is starting to show practice sessions, which is nice, but it could be better.

I'm hoping with the 1 US GP this year, and two next year that F1 will get more Fox time, and less Speed time.  If it was on OTA that would be best, I mean, there are only 19 races per year, it shouldn't be that tough.  Also I wouldn't even mind them showing it at the live time, that's what DVRs are for.  Not a DVR from the cable company of course, but a computer that is also a DVR, but that is another post.

Another random find is WRC.  WRC is only avaliable in the US via SPEED which you need cable for.  But there is luck, someone seems to have started uploading them on youtube a couple hours after there showing which is great.  You just need to search the correct criteria, like "WRC 2012 Finland part 1/2", and you should find it.

Overall I believe that sports people have a chance in watching there favorite sport online without cable. There will be times of frustration, and other times where you will be completely satisfied.  The point is that its possible with todays push toward an online market.  The goal is simple, spend less and get more.

Be frugal my friends.

Links:

www.watchespn.com

www.nascar.com/multimedia/webcast/racebuddy/

http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play

www.speed.com

http://www.youtube.com/user/indycars