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Speedway Grand Prix Data, Innovations Placed in the Hands of Fans in Warner Bros. Discovery's First Season as Global Promoter

10/05/2022

Speedway Grand Prix data and innovations placed in the hands of fans in Warner Bros. Discovery's first season as global promoter By Heather McLean, Editor

Friday, May 6, 2022 - 15:18

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Round 1 of the 2022 season of Speedway Grand Prix sped off at the FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Croatia on Saturday 30 April

Warner Bros. Discovery is launching its first season as the global promoter for Speedway Grand Prix (SGP) in new and thrilling ways to fans across the globe, with broadcast innovations designed to put more power literally in the hands of viewers.

The broadcaster has also, for the first time, taken the production of a series inhouse after winning the rights for Speedway from F d ration Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) in the latter half of 2019 to take over from previous incumbent IMG for the 2022 season.

SGP kicked off Round 1 last weekend at the FIM Speedway Grand Prix of Croatia on Saturday 30 April. Discovery Sports Events, as the new global promoter for the sport, has bought international Speedway together for the first time to create a stronger and more connected international pyramid of tiers, from grassroots all the way to the pinnacle of Speedway, as well as new broadcast and fan engagement technologies.

Challenging beginning

On winning the rights, head of Discovery Sports Events, Francois Ribeiro, tells SVG Europe: We got the rights in the second half of 2019 pre-COVID. It was a six month process, because IMG has been there for 20 years so it was not an easy decision [for FIM]; it's never an easy decision for an international federation to change promoter. After such a long period, you have nearly a sense of ownership as a promoter when you have been there for so long, and yet it's not a reality. So that's why we said to FIM, look, we have a very high interest in Speedway, but you have to give us some lead time ahead of a potential takeover because it's quite a big job to change promoter and take over a championship of that scale . So that's why FIM [awarded us] that tender two years ahead of schedule.

It's a really super hardcore fan base on Speedway. It's just amazing. It is probably the first time in my life as a promoter that I organise events and I found over hundred comments on social media about fans commenting on our camera positioning plan!

Discovery then faced the challenges seen around the world over 2020 and 2021, which impacted Speedway hard as the sport is very much about the fans. Explains Ribeiro: Speedway is all about fun engagement, is all about interaction with fans, it's all about in-stadium sport, 100%. So the sport has really suffered in '20 and '21, running 90% of their events behind closed doors and a 100% of the events in Europe. I would say that the level we took over the championship this year in '22 was absolutely not the level I was expecting it to be when we signed the promoter contract with FIM two years ago.

It's always very difficult for a sport to live without fans and keep running without fans for two seasons. The local organisers have been suffering because ticketing is their single income, Ribeiro continues. So, I can tell you that in Croatia, it was a very good feeling because we sold a 100% ticketing capacity [6,500 fans were present]. You could feel that the energy from fans was really high. We got fans from Poland, from Sweden, from Denmark, from UK, from Czech Republic, from Germany, all flying to Croatia; it was amazing to see their level of excitement to reengage with the sport after two years of frustration. But the reality is, I would've preferred to take over from IMG after two normal seasons.

Warner Bros. Discovery is working to bring Speedway fans new data and camera angles so they can pick and chose what they want to watch, when they want it

Regaining momentum

Because of the events of the last two years, Discovery is now tasked with regaining the momentum of Speedway. Ribeiro explains: It's about re-interacting with fans, and at the same time, we came up with new communication tools, so a new website, new app, new TV products. I think there was a bit of anxiety from the Speedway fan base ahead of the event [because of these changes].

We want to go deep in these analyses so the telemetry and the GPS tracking positioning we are putting in place will allow this. At the end of the day, it's all about finding different angles to enrich the storytelling and the narrative of the championship

I must say that we have been spending quite a few hours after the event on Saturday evening to check [fans] comments and the feedback on social media to see what they thought about the product, because we knew that they were very demanding; it's a really super hardcore fan base on Speedway. It's just amazing. It is probably the first time in my life as a promoter that I organise events and I found over hundred comments on social media about fans commenting on our camera positioning plan!

They are so engaged with the sport, they are so into the sport, they are so demanding, their expectations are so high, continues Ribeiro. We also set our own expectations high; when we came into the sport we did not make it a secret that we wanted really to bring the sport to a new level, [and it was then that] I realised we'd got fans [who are] as edgy as a live TV director on the quality of what we produce, on the quality of the narrative, on the quality of our production; it is just fascinating to see.

New and exciting data

Data gathering in order to enhance analysis on the world feed, across social media, and the Speedway app, is a new and exciting change for fans of the motorsport. Ribeiro says: We will gradually implement a new telemetry system, so each rider will have a sensor and transmitter on them and we've got, I think
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/speedway-grand-prix-data-and-...
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