Yesterday we heard official word that the SPEED channel will be reborn as FOX Sports 1 (FS1) on Saturday, August 17. Naturally this raises many questions for race fans who rely on SPEED for a substantial dose of race-related programming. For American race fans the question is, “How much of SPEED’s racing content will continue on FS1?” Unfortunately, for Canadian race fans, the question is, “How soon will the CRTC block FS1 from Canadian cable and satellite television service providers (TSPs)?”
The bad news for Canadians is that it seems to be a sure bet that the new FS1 – with its wide spectrum of sports content like ESPN and NBCSN (formerly VERSUS) – will NOT be approved by the CRTC for inclusion on any of the Canadian TSPs. And, once that happens, none of the current SPEED race programming will be available to Canadians unless a CRTC-approved broadcaster like TSN or SportsNet buys these broadcasts for distribution in Canada.
To review the current state of play: TSN/TSN2 brings us Formula One, NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide, NHRA drag racing (tape delayed), and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. SportsNet will carry all the IndyCar races live. Last year SportsNet also carried most of the American Le Mans Series races; this year we know that the Sebring 12-h will be on SPEED but, after that, it’s mostly unknown. Some races – F1, NASCAR Sprint Cup, IndyCar – will be broadcast on American network channels like ABC or FOX which we can get in Canada.
SPEED has the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races all season as well as the Grand-Am Rolex and Continental races and MotoGP (not F1, not Superbikes). I think that much of SPEED’s familiar race-related programming will remain on FS1, at least to the end of the 2013 racing season but that may be of no use to us on the Canadian side of the border.
If the SPEED/FS1 channel goes blank for us after mid-August we face the ironic possibility that neither of the big races at CTMP (aka Mosport) – the ALMS race in July or the NASCAR truck race on Labour Day – will be available on TV for Canadian-based race fans.
What can we do about it? I’m not sure. I think perhaps the best thing we could do would be to lobby our racing-friendly Canadian broadcasters (TSN, SportsNet, FX) and other broadcasters to encourage them to pick up the missing pieces.