The changing face of future motorcycle events

Malcolm Lee MotorCycle Direct Posted: July 23rd, 2020

During the height of the pandemic, motorcycle events, like rock concerts and sporting matches, vanished overnight. While lockdown measures may ease, some American scientists speculate that the fallout from the COVID–19 virus may become an issue for the next year or more.

If social distancing stays with us, future motorcycle event organizers will need to make some dramatic changes.

When and if things ever return to normal is unknown. In the meantime, let's take a look at the changing face of future motorcycle events.

Watching an event trackside could become tricky due to the large numbers of attending spectators. If a two–metre distancing protocol remains in place, the Moto GP at Silverstone for one, will look a lot different.

Instead of grandstands full of people sitting cheek to jowl, spectators could line the outside of the track. At 5.9 kilometers long, a crowd spaced two meters apart means 2950 lucky fans would get to see the racing live.

It's more probable, though, that in the short term, events will take place in empty stadiums or tracks. This solution is already happening with some interesting results.

Die–hard NASCAR race fans in the US are currently standing two meters apart in the car park just to hear the roar of the engines. Meanwhile in Germany, soccer coaches now have to watch their language. Due to the lack of crowd noise, referees can clearly hear their 'colourful' comments.

Some sports such as American football can't go ahead in ‘ghost stadiums' due to the amount of physical contact between players.

Thanks to the protective equipment and the natural distancing of the racers, motorcycle events could get back on track more quickly.

Viewing Changes in the Pipeline

If this is the case and fans are forced to watch from home, two significant things could change.

Number one, behind the scenes deals for new licensing and coverage rights will be the subject of major negotiations. Networks will fight tooth and nail to win screening rights which may have the knock–on effect of increasing the number of Pay–per–View channels and the cost of viewing, as networks claw back their investment.

To put this in perspective, worldwide viewing figures for the 2018 Moto GP World Championship reached 400 million. With COVID–19 providing a captive audience, TV networks believe that the chances of this figure increasing are high.

Pay–per–View customers, however, vote with their remote, which brings us to the second of our two knock–on effects, the need to improve event coverage.

Event Coverage needs to Kick Up a Gear

Just because the only way to watch a sporting event is televised, doesn't mean that race coverage can rest on its laurels. Tail cameras have featured on race bikes since 1985, and if ever there was a time when motorcycle event footage needs to up its game, it's now.

Thankfully the technology to enhance motorcycle event coverage is now under development. Computer giant Intel says the system they are currently working on will kick event coverage into the next century.

This system, called True View, uses multiple cameras with multiple lenses to capture what TV call, volumetric 3–D. The result is a 360–degree view that allows the consumers to watch the action from a nearly infinite number of angles. It also gives the capability to zoom in.

Intel's partners include Paramount Studios along with the six–time Emmy award–winning creator of ESPN's Sport Science, John Brenkus. "If you look at our past has been very successful traditional, linear content," says Brenkus, "...what it hasn't been able to do is deliver content in a way that people not only haven't seen but haven't imagined.

The only thing we can rely on as fact for the moment is the uncertainty surrounding future protocols for mass public gatherings. Motorcycle events may one day re–open to the public, but numbers will be dramatically reduced to maintain social distancing guidelines. Smaller crowds will undoubtedly mean a huge spike in ticket prices.

The short–term future may appear grim, but if we do need to watch from the comfort of our sofa, new technology will come to the rescue.