NRL take note: Supercars TV coverage is the best in sport

Adam Vaughan Roar Pro

By , Adam Vaughan is a Roar Pro

Tagged:
 

5 Have your say

    The annual Bathurst 1000 has come and gone, and once again the coverage had everything the viewing public craves when they watch any sporting broadcast: the feeling of almost being involved in the damn thing.

    Access to anyone and everyone, even if they’re busy talking to someone else just before the race is due to begin.

    Obviously, the golden rule in Supercars is that if a guy with a camera approaches you, everything else stops until you give a little interview. Even if it is three minutes of dribble, it’s considered television gold if you get a smile, a cliché and a “Thanks Rusty” at the end.

    Everyone’s happy.

    Then you have the technical aspect of racing around Mount Panorama. Why the tyres, suspension, revs, race lines, transmissions, tactics and good old-fashioned courage are so important to become ‘King of the Mountain’.

    You understand very quickly why so much money is spent on getting these finely tuned machines around the racing circuit. It’s full on.

    And then, to bring all of those technical aspects together into practice, you have Mark Larkham doing what Phil Gould used to do before every Origin match. He takes you onto the famed mountain and shows you why this track is so tough to drive. He brings the emotion of it all into focus for you, the viewer.

    The ins and outs of every turn. Why you hug the wall here, but not there. Why you slam your foot down on the throttle here but slam it on the brake there.
    After one lap with Larko, you’re exhausted. So you wonder, how do these blokes do that for so long?

    Your appreciation for what you’re seeing and hearing lifts just a little bit more.

    But then, you hear it from the drivers and crews themselves as they are racing.

    Better yet, you hear instant feedback from the drivers after their flying lap in the Top Ten Shootout. Before they even talk to their own crew, Neil Crompton is on to them about what they thought of the lap, their expectations for the race and what flavour Powerade they’re sucking down in the car.

    All this while you’re watching footage of the driver from inside his car. It’s almost like you’re in there with them having a good old chat.

    But the cream on top is the cameras. They are absolutely everywhere – they’d probably have them in the dunnies down in pit row, along with microphones, if they were allowed.

    Pretty much everything else was covered though, including a handheld camera that showed us that the bottom of the front spoiler looked exactly like the top of it.

    Amazing.

    However, as is the case every year, some pundits criticised other sports for their comparative lack of access. The NRL especially took the brunt of most of the criticism.

    In their defence, the NRL has tried to enhance the viewer’s experience with small catch-ups with players walking off at halftime and the odd chat to the coaches before the games, but when it comes to access, the Supercars drivers and teams leave most other sports, well, in their smoke.

    Channel Seven has taken us into the dressing rooms for the halftime report during their AFL coverage, as well as letting Brian Taylor loose to stalk (or roam as they call it) unsuspecting players and coaches after games to get a better understanding of why they won and how the game went.

    The NRL isn’t as giving.

    Sure, there is the occasional interviews in the sheds after the game, but you only see them if you watch the Sunday Footy Show. And who wants to put themselves through that?

    The best after-game coverage we get is a press conference with each coach and captain, with questions we can’t hear, and answers that are lucky not to be a cliché or a simple shrug of the shoulders.

    They are a waste of time unless the coach snaps and blames the blokes with the whistle for all of their misfortunes, which eventually leads to a fine.

    Ricky Stuart fronts the media

    Ricky Stuart, safe as houses. (WLFTV, YouTube)

    With Supercars, we get honesty. We get humour. We get disappointment.

    Essentially, we get human beings being human beings. And they are encouraged to be just that.

    A lot of other sports seem to want their players and coaches to be robots. And they have put in rules to make that happen. Yet, on the other hand, they want them to be available.

    You know, they want their cake and to eat it too.

    But I’ll ask you this: what do you want from your television coverage when it comes to most other sports on offer?

    Do you want an all-access experience? Do you want candid interviews? Do you want to be able to hear what’s going on in the coach’s box, even if half of what’s said is bleeped out for the kiddies? Do you want cameras on the players’ heads so you can understand what they’re going through?

    Or is it as simple as Supercars are actually able to give the viewer a richer experience because of what they are?

    It’s easy to fix cameras all over a car and circuit.

    You can’t fix cameras to footy players and officials. I don’t know about you, but when Fox Sports put their ref cam on air, I feel crook from all of the shaking.

    It’s easy to talk with a driver as he’s racing or just after his hot lap, because he already has all the gear on to talk with his pit crew anyway.

    How are you going to find out what Johnathan Thurston is looking at during a game? Get Brad Fittler to run on as a scrum is packing?

    Footy coaches are already paranoid about gameplans getting out or getting themselves in trouble with the league, club or opposition without shoving more microphones in their faces.

    At the end of the day, a lot of sports coverage could be better, but this can’t happen unless all parties work together. The ones in front of the camera have to be on the same wavelength as those behind it, and the trust factor between the two will never be what it needs to be for that to happen.

    Supercars have this. And they are, and will continue to be, streets ahead when it comes to television coverage.

    Their next step? Getting more people following the sport.

    The Bathurst coverage would no doubt have got a lot more people watching, because it was Bathurst. But I’m willing to bet a fair few non-Supercar fans would tune back in because of the quality of the coverage.

    I certainly will be – and, believe me, I am no rev-head.

    At the end of the day, we want to be entertained, and I was certainly entertained. I learnt a fair bit as well.

    Supercars have got the right formula, so who knows how big they will be in ten years time?

    I look forward to finding out.