It was a surprise to read the Sydney Morning Herald report on Thursday that Kayo Sports would be making the Supercars Championship free for all to watch live.
This is great news for Supercars fans after six years of paywalls and just a smattering of live races on Channel 10.
Motorsport follows the rule of all sports when it comes to television – the only way to maximise audiences is to have decent free-to-air coverage.
It’s something that’s clear to see when you look at the viewing figures for Supercars this season.
The Darwin Triple Crown in mid-August was broadcast live FTA on Channel 10 as well as on Fox Sports.
The race held on Saturday afternoon was watched by 276,000 on 10, more than double the 106,000 watching Fox Sports’ coverage.
Compare that to the second SuperSprint round at The Bend in late September, shown exclusively live on Fox Sports to 120,000 viewers on the Saturday and 134,000 viewers on Sunday.
That’s a combined total of 382,000 viewers for a race shown on FTA compared to 134,000 for a race placed behind a paywall.
The conclusion is a no-brainer. Supercars will welcome the opportunity to attract a wider audience.
And they need all the help they can get.
Whilst the future looks bright for Supercars with 2022 heralding the debut of Chevrolet Camaro and new Gen3 regulations, the impact of Holden shutting down its factory operations for good is not yet clear.
The announcement that the Camaro would take the place of the Commodore prompted one social media user to comment, ‘Australian supercars where Kiwis dominate and we race American cars’.
There is no question that Holden’s departure from Supercars leaves a hole that the Camaro will never be able to truly fill.
Supercars thrives on the historic rivalry between Holden vs Ford, which was alive and well when Shane Van Gisbergen and Cameron Waters battled it out for the Peter Brock Trophy at Bathurst last weekend.
The rivalry between General Motors (represented by the Camaro) and Ford should be as fierce but Supercars will still have to ride the potential wave of discontent from fans who become disenchanted with the sport now that Holden are no longer involved.
Channel Seven’s coverage would only be able to do so much given that half of the season would remain behind a paywall with lengthy gaps in between races shown live on FTA TV.
Supercars needs the attention of the casual viewer now more than ever and that’s why the announcement by Kayo is a godsend for the championship.