19 Mar 09
How about live television coverage from WRC events?
Live television is an ongoing debate. We recognise that to be one of the top sports you have to have a live component. So we are continuing to look at ways to deliver just that. Live could be a Super Special stage, which is a great spectacle on one hand, but we don't think that's the 'real' rally. It could be a part stage, such as the last one, where you can see the winner crowned on the podium, or live could be a series of live elements across the weekend, linking in and out to give a sense of the theatre of the event over the course of a weekend. Viewers could pop in and out on television or via the internet.
But we're not looking at television in isolation. We want to use the internet more and more, and integrate what we're doing on conventional television with what we're doing in the digital space. We foresee more and more of a blurring between our offerings for both. In the long term we see internet with interactive elements and television all coming together. That's the big ambition.
So we can expect to see more content on wrc.com?
There are lots of opportunities. This year the website ran an internet-only stage in Ireland which worked very well. We're testing different formats in terms of quality, logistics and cost and we hope to make the results available on wrc.com or on television. Wrc.com is the playground, if you like. We're looking for the site to become the hub where viewers can come and watch the action from just about any angle. In future that means, quite possibly, more onboards, more live stages and also things like mapping and ways of relating the live splits and timing with a visually live experience. Possibly using webcams at the start and finish of stages, when the cars come into service, live interviews and live vehicle tracking.
The beauty is we have 300 plus hours of content from 12 events this year, so there's a lot of action out there waiting to be unlocked. We're using perhaps six or seven hours of that on each event. There's scope to show all our onboard footage, perhaps as video on demand, and for people to watch only their favourite drivers, events, and access archive material. We want to give users a sense of community and involvement.
Further on the gaming element is something we're extremely keen on. We're having discussions about being able to integrate an 'as live' gaming experience with the rally in real time - and that really will be the 'wow' rally game. As technology and compression rates evolve it's perfectly conceivable within the next couple of years that we'll be able allow the gamer to come in via, lets say, wrc.com through their X-box. They'll be able to compete in their living room live with their favourite driver, and then integrate their performance with the onboards which by then we'd have available as well, and compare their performance against the world's best.