I am Canadian. I am proud of that fact. But the lack of motorsports support is really starting to hurt the regular fan.
Today is another very sad day for the Canadian race fan. I just took a long somber walk back to my computer after searching for this weekends racing events on the old PVR.
Multiple Canadian television carriers, including mine, ShawTV, has decided to discontinue Fox Sports Racing, or Fox Sports 1 or whatever SpeedTV became.
When the announcement two years ago that Speed Channel would fall by the wayside for a more conventional sports channel, and the rebranding of Fox into multiple channels, I was at first very upset.
But, then for those two years SpeedTV branding and commericals and programming remained on Canadian television. For an entire calendar year, this Speed Channel circulated the same three commercials.
That was annoying, but as a trade off to continue watching the sport delivered in the same Fox styling, I made do.
When the start of the 2015 racing season rolled around, our beloved Speed Channel finally was rebranded on our sets at Fox Sports 1. (They had the same three commericals every commerical break, albeit a different variant on the same promo)
Until this week.
The channel is gone. Fox Sports 1 is no longer available on my television, and I am upset.
Not enough interest?
In doing a little bit or research as to what happened, I came across this note on my provider's website:
"Speed TV, now Fox Sports Racing, recently lost coverage of major motorsport events—including NASCAR races—and has already been discontinued by other major Canadian television providers, including: Bell, Telus and Cogeco. As we’re always reviewing our content to ensure it meets the expectations and demands of our customer base, we also made the decision to remove Speed TV from our channel lineup.
"While we understand that not all of the programing on Fox Sports Racing is available on other channels, many major live events are currently covered by other networks such as TSN, NBC, Sportsnet, Discover Velocity, etc. We continue to monitor channel popularity and evaluate new channels as they become available to ensure we are providing the best possible value and a content experience that meets the diverse preferences of our customer base. We understand and if we see enough customer demand we may decide to add the channel to our lineup.
"Thank you everyone for your feedback and we understand that you all enjoyed the content on Speed—many of us here at Shaw share your passion for motorsports. Just like any channel, we will continue to monitor consumer demand and the programming offered on Fox Sports Racing—and may decide to offer it in the future. If you would like to see this or any other channel made available at Shaw, please submit your request to us through the Channel Request Form.
"Thanks again for your feedback and passion and we apologize for any inconvenience."
Now, I don't know who is doing their research but I am almost 100 per cent positive that Fox Sports 1 did not lose NASCAR in any way (aside from having to share the season with another network)...
In fact, I have watch two Formula E races and a good handful of NASCAR sanctioned events already this year using the channel that was so dramatically taken from me (us).
Western Canada does not support racing
I have been covering the demise of motorsports in my western part of the country for some time now. Between small towns denying a karting track that would have been miles away from town, to the County of Rocky View turning away a $70 million race track development on the back of 16 farmers, (of which only 6 were legitimately effected directly by the track) this half of my great nation has next to no support for one of the world's largest spectators sports.
At the same time I was covering tracks being shut down, I have seen two brand new ice hockey rinks raised in my hometown (of 50,000, bringing the City's tally to 5 sheets of ice), I have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars raised to hold the Alberta Summer Games...but auto racing? No way.
Stick and ball vs. tires and steering wheel
By removing the professionals from the television sets, which is arguably the first contact many young people have with motorsports, carriers are taking away our ability to witness and gain passion for a sport that while is very marginalized here, still exists.
I suppose that Canadian sports broadcaster TSN will pick up the races on one of its feeds...complete with terrible commercial cuts, overlaid Canadian commercials that give the entire show a very clunky feel. How many times have my comrades found themselves coming back into the race program 20-25 seconds after the actual broadcast came back from commerical?
What will be on TV instead?
In the end, this summer I see myself stuck with a lot of curling, or ice hockey while my internet connection runs wild trying to illegally stream the race I want to watch. I have done the research, there is one provider who CAN broadcast Fox Sports 1 to me...but they do not service my area...
I suppose business needs to run to be profitable, and if there is a channel that isnt getting as much interest as others, something should be done. But to exclude a channel? I don't know about that.
I will go skipping over the countless and for lack of a better word, stupid auction shows, shows about polygamy or even that little chubby girl who goes to beauty pageants searching for my racing.
My only message to fellow Canadians out there at this point would be to contact your provider and let them know they have made a mistake and there is plenty of interest for racing in Canada.