Can WRC All Live kill traditional TV?

Published on Wednesday February 07 2018

WRC’s streaming All Live service began in Monte Carlo. Pic: Mcklein-imagedatabase.com

This morning’s was a particularly sporty school run. It was -5 when I nosed the family Volvo into the lanes and we were sideways by corner three.

My daughter rolled her eyes, tightened her belt and returned her attentions to Divergence. I was slightly surprised not to hear the usual roar of approval from the back seat. Instead, in a perfectly passable Irish accent, came the message: “Respect the ice, Daddy.”

My son beamed, tremendously proud of himself.

More rolling of eyes from the left-hand seat.

“About 52,” was Ollie’s answer to how many times he’d watched the Monte Carlo Rally highlights on Channel 5. I suspect slight exaggeration, but not much. He trots out the commentary verbatim at the breakfast table, while Georgia explains for the 100th time her book’s called Divergent, not Divergence.

Having consumed as much live Monte action as our rural, slightly pedestrian broadband would permit, I was interested to see what the impact would be on Ollie’s enthusiasm for Channel 5’s Tuesday night hour-long highlights.

Much as I absolutely agree we need wall-to-wall live coverage on-event, I still enjoy the review show and had feared one might kill the other.

“Respect the ice”, much like Meeke had to Pic: Mcklein-imagedatabase.com

Undoubtedly, traditional linear television has a limited shelf life when set against the ultimate convenience of on-demand. But Channel 5’s numbers for WRC a week last Tuesday fly in the face of that convention.

Almost half a million of us tuned in at some point, with a 430,000 peak and 370,000 average for the hour. Those are solid, solid numbers.

Yes, we can reach back a couple of decades and stack them against the multi-millions who watched McRae versus Burns, but television was a very, very different place back then.

For years, Nigel Starmer-Smith and Rugby Special were the only way to consume rugby on telly and therefore enjoyed huge ratings. Until 2005, when the show was closed after Sky took over everything.

Channel 5 demonstrates two things: digital and linear can cohabit comfortably and there’s a huge appetite for more World Rally Championship action in 2018.

Last year was a huge one for the WRC, but I genuinely believe it was just a springboard to even greater success this season. Everything is in place and fans like Ollie have never had it so good with All Live, Red Bull TV, BT Sport, Channel 5 and, of course, Autosport’s Race Centre Live and motorsport-news.co.uk coverage.

Wall-to-wall social media coverage is vital, but it can mix with TV. Pic: Mcklein-imagedatabase.com

Talking of All Live, there were some teething troubles, but it’s worth cutting WRC Promoter some slack.

WRC Promoter’s Oliver Ciesla describes a “beastly” baptism of fire for the new timing supplier and All Live in the mountains last month, and it’s hard to disagree. There really isn’t a deeper end to dive into for the first time, but I’m sure those issues will be ironed out for round two next week.

By the way, for those who haven’t watched Sisteron 52 times, the respect for the ice was Paul Nagle’s advice to Kris Meeke.

Divergence not pictured…

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