With the World Superbike season-opener now less than two weeks away, bad news looms for motorcycle race fans in the United States, as the SPEED Channel (now a part of FOX Sports), does not have a television contract to air WSBK and MotoGP for their 2013 seasons.
An issue that has been hanging in limbo since the start of the year, Superbike Planet yesterday suggested that American motorcycle racing fans could be without the World Superbike Championship on their televisions sets this year (we have heard similar murmurings regarding AMA Pro Racing as well).
Now today, Roadracing World confirmed with SPEED that the network still does not have any contracts with Dorna for the TV rights to WSBK and MotoGP. What’s worse, SPEED’s Vice President of Media Relations Erik Arneson gave no indication that the TV channel was any closer to finishing a deal with Dorna than it was earlier this year.
Though back in January Arneson was emphatic that SPEED would air the MotoGP Championship, the reading between the lines seems to suggest that World Superbike will not air on SPEED, and with the Qatar round rapid approaching, SPEED has less than two months to come to terms with Dorna over the MotoGP TV rights.
The only outlet for motorcycle fans on the small screen, SPEED’s lack of TV coverage for WSBK will be a blow to the series, which has struggled to break free of its Euro-centric calendar and following.
With MotoGP having three rounds this year in the United States, it seems unlikely that a contract will fail to materialize, but one has to wonder how serious the coverage will be from SPEED with an agreement taking this long to come together.
With US motorcycle fans already getting little more than the most bare-boned coverage of the premier motorcycle class on SPEED, it has hard to imagine how the TV network could water-down its coverage even further.
One thing is for certain though, what we will get will likely do nothing to help grow the sport in the North American market, and many die hard fans will have to resort to less-than-legal methods to get their racing fix on Sundays.
Source: Superbike Planet & Roadracing World